‘People are fearful... Isis are closing in on Baghdad,’ says Portsmouth vicar

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A VICAR working in Baghdad has spoken of his fear as Isis close in on the Iraqi capital.

Canon Andrew White serves the Portsmouth diocese but spends most of his time in the war-torn country as the head of St George’s Church – Iraq’s only Anglican church.

He announced on Twitter yesterday that the militant group, which grew out of terrorist organisation al-Qaeda in Iraq, were just five miles from Baghdad and concerns were high.

And Mr White, who is known as the Vicar of Baghdad has revealed that one of the soldiers assigned to protect him would sooner ‘take off his uniform and run’ if he knew Isis were coming.

‘People are very fearful – the nation looks as if it has collapsed,’ said Mr White, who is from Liphook.

‘The usual hectic and crazy streets were this morning almost empty.

‘The news from our friends in areas surrounding Baghdad is equally worrying, the Islamic State – Isis or DAASH as they are known locally – are very close to Baghdad.

‘We do not really know what is happening – all we know is that people are very afraid.

‘We know that civilians have been killed in air strikes, we know that there are huge battles with Isis, and we know that our army is not very efficient.’

Mr White has led the church in Iraq since 2005 and has to deal with the day-to-day reality of the area being bombed and members of his congregation being killed.

Mr White said in his Middle East daily update that he has spoken to his church about the need to love Israel.

‘The sermon was well received as I have been working on the issue for so long,’ he said.

Meanwhile, dozens of Kurdish protesters brought London’s Oxford Street to a standstill this week as they called on countries to unite against Isis – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Scuffles broke out with police as demonstrators chanted and waving placards to condemn the militant group’s brutal attacks.