Armed jihadists of the so-called “Islamic State” took over Iraq’s largest Christian town, Qaraqosh, and surrounding towns early Thursday, forcing thousands of Christians to flee further into Kurdistan. Widespread news reports said Sunni militants moved into the area overnight, after Kurdish defense forces withdrew. The militants also have seized Mosul Dam, Iraq’s largest..

Qaraqosh and its surrounding towns in northern Iraq became home to thousands of Christian refugees who fled Mosul in July when the Islamic State forces overran the city. Now those refugees and the residents of the towns are jamming roads leading deeper into Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.

“It’s a catastrophe, a tragic situation. We call on the UN security council to immediately intervene. Tens of thousands of terrified people are being displaced as we speak, it cannot be described,” the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah, Joseph Thomas, told Agence France-Presse.

The U.S. is considering air strikes against the jihadists and air-drops of food and water for the fleeing civilians, the New York Times reported, citing administration officials.

Sources: NYT; BBC; IBT; Telegraph; Independent