Assyrian Christians forced to flee from their homes by last summer’s advance of Islamic State fighters are forming a militia of up to 4,000 men to take back their homeland.
According to the London-based Catholic Herald,
Their aim is to take back the rest of the Nineveh Plains, a traditionally Christian part of Iraq, which was overrun by ISIS last summer. More than 100,000 Christians are currently displaced in the nearby Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq, along with a large number of Yazidis.
The group, the Nineveh Plains Protection Unit, is allied with the Iraqi Army and Kurdish pesh merga militia, according to the Catholic Herald. It is funded largely by donations from Assyrians and those of Assyrian descent living in the United States, Australia and Sweden and being trained by American contractors, the paper reported.
According to Newsweek, Iraq analyst Sajad Jiyad said the militia’s existence alone tells the Islamic State they are in for a fight.
“It’s also important for the locals to send a message to ISIS that they are not going to allow the demographic change to become permanent,” he told the magazine.
A British Assyrian, John Michael, told the paper the militia is a last resort for a people that has been under attack by the Islamic State since last summer.
“This is our last stand,” he said. “If this fails then Christianity will be finished in Iraq.”
Independent journalist Theodore Shoebat, of Shoebat.com, interviewed a founder of the Nineveh Plains Protection Unit.
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