Anguished Christian minorities in Iraq, whose homes have been captured by the deadly Islamic State militants, are training a strong 4,000-member militia in order to fight the jihadists and to regain control over their homeland.
The organisation that they have named ‘Nineveh Plains Protection Units’ claims to currently have about 500 Assyrian Christian troops looking after towns such as Alqosh in the Nineveh Plains, while a further 500 are being trained and another 3,000 men have already registered to be part of the militia.
The Nineveh Plains, a region in north-western Iraq, has historically been the home of the Assyrians – a collective of original Iraqis — who are known to have followed Christianity. The Christian community and other groups such as the Yazidis have endured persecution at the hands of Muslim in the past and now are facing onslaughts from the ISIS extremists.
The militant organisation, also known by the name of ISIL, invaded Northern Iraq in the summer of 2014 triggering a deadly conflict and forcing the Iraqi military and the Yazidis to flee for their lives, an instance that resulted in a mass exodus of tens of thousands of people.
“Unfortunately, ISIS is currently occupying the lands of the Nineveh Plain Province, spreading a reign of terror – complete with beheading, torture and sexual slavery – unlike anything the world has ever seen anywhere,” the group’s official site explained in a statement.
“Enough is enough. Terrorized by ISIS and left to defend themselves by the Arab Iraqis and the Kurds, Assyrians and Yezidis are now organizing and arming themselves, determined to protect what homes they still have and take back those that ISIS has stolen,” the strongly worded website of the militia added.
According to the Catholic Herald , the Assyrian forces are allied to the Iraqi Army and Kurds although they claim independence in their decision-making. Their desire is to establish an administrate area for the Assyrians and Yazidis and other minorities like Shabaks and Mandeans.
Although they are funded by the members of the Assyrian Diaspora from the US, Australia and Sweden, the group claims it is falling short of the funds needed to realise their goals.