Assyrian people (Syriac: ), or Syriacs (see terms for Syriac Christians), are an ethnic group indigenous to Western Asia. Some of them self-identify as Arameans, or as Chaldeans. Speakers of modern Aramaic and as well as the primary languages in their countries of residence, the Assyrian people are Syriac Christians who claim descent from Assyria, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, dating back to 2500 BC in ancient Mesopotamia.
The tribal areas that form the Assyrian homeland are parts of present-day northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran and, more recently, northeastern Syria. The majority have migrated to other regions of the world, including North America, the Levant, Australia, Europe, Russia and the Caucasus during the past century. Emigration was triggered by events such as the Massacres of Diyarbak?r, the Assyrian Genocide (concurrent with the Armenian and Greek Genocides) during World War I by the Ottoman Empire and allied Kurdish tribes, the Simele Massacre in Iraq in 1933, the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Arab Nationalist Ba'athist policies in Iraq and Syria, the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its takeover of most of the Nineveh plains.
Assyrians are predominantly Christian, mostly adhering to the East and West Syrian liturgical rites of Christianity. The churches that constitute the East Syrian rite include the Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East, and Chaldean Catholic Church, whereas the churches of the West Syrian rite are the Syriac Orthodox Church and Syriac Catholic Church. Both rites use Classical Syriac as their liturgical language.
Most recently, the post-2003 Iraq War and the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, have displaced much of the remaining Assyrian community from their homeland as a result of ethnic and religious persecution at the hands of Islamic extremists. Of the one million or more Iraqis reported by the United Nations to have fled Iraq since the occupation, nearly 40% were Assyrians even though Assyrians accounted for only around 3% of the pre-war Iraqi demography. According to a 2013 report by a Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council official, it is estimated that only 300,000 Assyrians remain in Iraq.
Because of the emergence of ISIL and the taking over of much of the Assyrian homeland by the terror group, another major wave of Assyrian displacement has taken place. ISIL was driven out from the Assyrian villages in the Khabour River Valley and the areas surrounding the city of Al-Hasakah in Syria by 2015, and from the Nineveh plains in Iraq by 2017. Since the expulsion of ISIL, the Nineveh plains have been divided into Iraqi and Kurdish-controlled zones, with Assyrian militias on both sides. In Gozarto/Northern Syria, Assyrian groups have been taking part both politically and militarily in the Kurdish-dominated but multiethnic Democratic Federation of Northern Syria project.