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Christians Join New Militia to Combat ISIS in Northern Iraq


ISIS 

The
Assyrian Democratic Movement has announced the formation of the Nineveh
Plain Protection Units, a militia largely comprised of Christian
volunteers created to defend civilians from ISIS. The NPU also hopes to
recapture land that was taken over by the terrorist organization.

There
are reportedly between 500 and 1,000 Assyrian volunteers in training
with the NPU, which was formed by the Assyrian Democratic Movement, the
primary political party of Assyrians in Iraq.

“The
mission of the NPU will be first to protect the remaining Assyrian
lands from further attacks by ISIS, and then to participate in the
necessary military campaigns to liberate the Assyrian homeland of the
Nineveh Plain from these notorious terrorists,” reads a press release from the American Mesopotamian Organization, which is helping the project by raising awareness and support for the NPU.

“As
a means of protection for themselves and other ethno-religious peoples
under attack from ISIS, the Assyrian Democratic Movement is now actively
recruiting and training young Assyrian volunteers for service in the
Nineveh Plain Protection Units, readying them for combat with ISIS,”
according to the press release.

David W. Lazar, a Baghdad native who runs the American Mesopotamian
Organization, said that the program is being funded by “Assyrian
communities in the diaspora,” specifically in the U.S. and Europe, and
plans to eventually seek help from the U.S. and European governments.

“As
the NPU grow in strength and size, they will become part of the
official security forces of the proposed province, ensuring protection
for the lands, homes and lives of Iraq’s minority populations,”
according to the press release.

“They will be part of national
guard, a project Iraq is putting together,” said Lazar. “We will be
pushing for creation of Nineveh Plain Province because it’s our right.”

The
units are being formed by Assyrian Christians out of frustration with
the Iraqi government and military who they feel failed to protect them
during the most critical times. They specifically hold the Kurds, a
group that runs part of northern Iraq, responsible.

“Kurds told
Christians: ‘Relax, stay in your house, we’ll take care of it.’ They got
them to hand over their weapons, saying, ‘We can’t have a lot of
weapons floating around; that might cause problems,'” claimed Jeff
Gardner, who is helping the American Mesopotamian Organization with
public relations.

While some Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters have
been successful at pushing ISIS out of certain areas, including the
village of Bakufa in northern Iraq, ISIS had driven the Christian
population out of the area, which is comprised of 95 houses and is
located 243 miles north of Baghdad.

However, after they took back
the town, the Kurdish fighters began setting up village militia that was
made up of about 70 volunteers. The militia, which is made up of many
Christians, now patrol the area around the clock to keep the village
free so that their families could return.

“We found ourselves helpless,” Caesar Jacob, deputy to the Christian militia’s commander, told The Associated Press. “We must defend ourselves to defend our land for now and the future.”

The Kurdish peshmerga fighters seem proud of their accomplishments in Bakufa.

“We
came here to protect our Christian brothers and their homes,” said
Abdul Rahman Kawriny, the local peshmerga brigade commander. “There is
constant cooperation and assistance. We are always together.”

It
is important to ensure safety once an area is cleared of ISIS, according
to Michael Stephens, a Middle East expert at the Royal United Services
Institute for Defense and Security Studies.

“One of the biggest
problems is that when ISIS leaves an area, it leaves it full of roadside
bombs and mines and traps everywhere, which makes the place
uninhabitable for anybody who wants to move back,” he said.

The placement of bombs along roads, and inside homes and churches.

Both
sides of this fight will face a potential harsh winter and displaced
people and refugees face an even greater challenge as the U.N. recently
announced that its World Food Program ran out of funds and is cutting
off its programs in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt.

.

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