A senior official said the American lethal aid is still not enough to battle the militants, even though Peshmerga and other Kurdish forces were supplemented with similar munitions from Baghdad over the weekend
The additional assistance comes as Kurdish forces on Sunday took back two towns from the Islamic insurgents, aided in part by U.S. airstrikes in the region.
Britain has also provided airdrops of humanitarian aid and pledged to offer military surveillance capability over the siege of the Yazidis.The government is also looking at how Britain — alongside others — can get equipment to Kurdish forces so they can better counter Islamic militants and protect the displaced seeking help in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Other European leaders were also feeling the pressure to respond to the emergency. France called for an urgent meeting of European Union foreign ministers to consider Kurdish requests for arms and an aid airlift to northern Iraq.
In addition to the USCCB call for prayer, the Archdiocese of Washington is encouraging Catholics to say a prayer attributed to St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”
The archdiocese is also encouraging fasting. It encourages sharing the story of persecuted Christians on social media under the hashtag “#WeAreN.” The hashtag refers to the first letter of the word “Nusrani,” indicating “Christian.” Militants are painting nun, the Arabic equivalent of “N”, on the homes of Christians to target them for harassment and violence.
In the Archdiocese of New York, Holy Innocents parish is holding a prayer vigil for peace Aug. 11. Marking the feast of the transitus of St. Clare of Assisi, it will include Mass at the parish, followed by a candlelight prayer rally at Manhattan’s Herald Square.
In the Archdiocese of Denver, Archbishop Samuel Aquila will host an interreligious prayer gathering for Middle East peace at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Aug. 11. Together with the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon’s ecumenical and interfaith office, the effort aims to halt the murder of Christians and the destruction of Christians’ homes, properties, and churches.
“Though no simple resolution to these tragedies is readily apparent, we, as people of faith, cannot help but be moved to respond in some way,” Archbishop Aquila said.
The prayer effort also seeks an end to the persecution of Jewish and Muslim minorities in the Middle East.
Representatives at the event will include Catholic and Orthodox Churches from the Middle East; Protestant and Catholic representatives from Western Christianity; and Jews and Muslims.
“We are coming together as a people who believe in God … proud of our diversity, yet honored to call one another brothers and sisters, to celebrate and protect the civilization of diversity, peace, love and co-existence,” said Father Andre-Sebastian Mahanna, pastor of St. Rafka Maronite parish in Lakewood and director of the Maronite eparchy’s interfaith office.
The prayer service will include readings from the Pentateuch, the New Testament, and the Koran, as well as hymns and prayers for peace.
The Our Father will be chanted in Hebrew, Syro-Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and English. There will be prayers in Arabic, as well.
Archbishop Aquila will deliver a statement expressing solidarity on behalf of the religions gathered.
Catholic News Agency and the Associated Press contributed to this report.