Hundreds of Iraqi Christian men take up arms against ISIS in Northern Iraq to reclaim lost villages.
Hundreds of young Iraqi Christian men in Northeast region are picking up arms for the first time to train in a former U.S military security base in preparation to fight back and reclaim towns and villages lost to militants of the Islamic State (ISIS) that overran them few months ago.
“I want to defend our own lands, with our own force,” explained Nasser Abdullah, 26, who is helping lead younger recruits in training.
Yonadam Kanna, a Christian associated with the political party leading the training said to the young men, it is a fight to take back their roots.
“This is a fight to take back and come back to our land. It’s as though our roots of thousands of years have been pulled out of the ground,” Kanna said in a Christian Daily article.
According to a Wall Street Journal post, the Iraqi Christian coalition starting taking shape and sizing up due to the fact that the Iraqi Government abandoned them to their fate with the militants last year. Though the financial arming and training cost of the operation is somewhat a challenge, more than 2,000 men have so far signed up to join the fight, the report indicated.
In what might come as a relief to the brave men of the Christian militia in Iraq, the U.S. released the National Defense Authorization Act in December. The act makes provisions for funding of up $1.6 billion to train and equip fighters of security forces against Islamic State.
The jury is out on whether the Christian group of fighters will be considered as a legitimate security force, allowing them access to the million dollar grant, however, according to a statement about the act, the funds are meant to support “local forces that are committed to protecting highly vulnerable ethnic and religious minority communities in the Nineveh Plain and elsewhere.”
The present mobilization of the youth against ISIS is paramount in the wake of an ultimatum handed the Christians by the Islamic State: convert to Islam, pay a religious fine, or face death by the sword – which has since decimated the Christian population from an all-time peak of 1 million in 2003, to fewer than 400,000.
The militants have declared cities in Iraq, including the largely Christian city of Mosul, as their “Islamic Caliphate, leaving a total of about 1.2 million people affected by the conflict. The Christian militia remains resolute in taking their fate into their hands, as Kurdish forces who were assigned the Nineveh plains region fled during attacks, leaving the area defenseless and vulnerable.
“No one has protected the minorities, and no one will in the future,”said Kaldo Oghanna, one of the key officials who helped moderate activities during the first week of training.
Meanwhile, some concerned Americans in Iraq have given their widow’s might to the fight, doing so via a nonprofit organization which has been helping the Christian militia. Though being careful not to spark off a “crazy religious war,” one of the American trainers told The Wall Street Journal that “the Americans want to stay away from this because their view is, if you train the Christians, you’re starting some crazy religious war,” he said. “Well, ISIS beat you to it.”