By Theodore Shoebat
Christians, tired of being abandoned and betrayed by governments, are fighting ISIS as brave warriors in the Nineveh Plains Protection Unit. This new militia is called the Nineveh Plain Protection Unit, and we have done an exclusive interview with one of the founders of the militia, David William Lazar. The video can be watched here:
According to the latest report on this militia:
When ISIL attacked the Christian town of Qaraqosh last year, it was only the latest in a series of disasters to befall one of Iraq’s oldest communities.
Flush with success after chasing the Iraqi army out of Mosul, the group quickly advanced into the nearby Nineveh plains, forcing an estimated 200,000 Assyrian Christians to flee, according to the NGO Reach Initiative.
Most have sought shelter in refugee camps in the autonomous Kurdish region that borders Nineveh province, where they are now pondering their future in a country they feel does not want them.
Some are forming militias with the intent to reclaim territory and form a safe haven.
Christians suspect widespread collaboration between their Arab neighbours and ISIL, and almost all those displaced believe their houses have been looted by their former neighbours. Many say they know of Arabs that have joined the militants.
After being abandoned by their government and betrayed by their neighbours, the rise of ISIL marked the culmination of over a decade of violent persecution of Christians in Iraq.
“We don’t want to leave the country that we lived in all our lives, where we enjoyed life and our religion. But we need a secure place to live,” says Batool Airyagoos, who fled Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in Nineveh, before it fell to ISIL last August. She now lives in a refugee camp in the Christian quarter of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Christians have fallen victim to extremism in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Sectarian tensions that arose in the aftermath of the second Gulf War unleashed a wave of violence against the minority, and many have already emigrated.
The US state department has estimated that one million Christians lived in Iraq when Saddam was toppled in 2003. Ten years later, Iraqi Christian church leaders said the number was halved, after hundreds of thousands of Christians left Iraq.
Most of the Christians in Nineveh are descendants of the Assyrians whose empire spread across Iraq over 3,000 years ago.
With roots this deep, they feel a strong connection to their land, and are determined to fight for their future in Iraq.
“This area belongs to our people and we have been here for thousands of years,” says Athra Kado, an Assyrian Christian who joined a militia unit last September.
Iraq’s Christians are represented by various political parties, some of which have their own militias. Large parts of Nineveh is disputed territory, with both the KRG and the central government in Baghdad laying claim to the Christian heartlands.
Most of the militiamen envisage an autonomous region for Nineveh’s Christian areas, be it under Kurdish or Iraqi jurisdiction. Having lost faith in both the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga, they are determined to safeguard their lands against future threats.
“The idea is to help to retake our towns and villages, and after that to hold our ground. We don’t want a repeat of what happened in Mosul with the Iraqi army, or in Nineveh with the Peshmerga. We trusted the forces in Iraq but they did not stay and fight, they did not even spend one bullet,” said Mr Kado, who is part the Nineveh Plains Protection Unit (NPU) militia.
The Peshmerga withdrew from parts of Nineveh, and abandoned Qaraqosh last August after more than a month of fighting.
The NPU hopes to become part of the National Guard that Baghdad seeks to raise, thus getting access to weapons and funding without being subject to direct control by either the KRG or the central government.
As the national guard units would fall under the control of Ninevah’s provincial government, the NPU would be getting access to weapons and funding without being subject to direct control by either the KRG or the central government.
As a result, the militia has received little help from the Peshmerga, and military training came to halt after the first batch of 500 volunteers, says Mr Kado.With the parliament in Baghdad stalling on the necessary legislation, the National Guard has yet to be formed, and the NPU has received neither weapons nor financial assistance from the central government.
Funding from within the community, or from Christian groups abroad, has not been to equip the men and keep them in the field.
Other groups are closer to the KRG. Albert Kisso, the commander of a small militia called Dwesh Nawsha, says that relations with the Peshmerga are good, even if his group has received neither weapons nor training from the Kurds.
Dwekh Nawsha, which translates from the Syriac language into “one who sacrifices”, is made up of less than 70 volunteers, including a small number of foreign fighters. The militia acts as a reserve that gets called in when ISIL mounts an attack.
Mr Kisso believes that an autonomous Christian region would best be part of the KRG, which has a better track record protecting minorities than the Iraqi government.
“We would like be part of Kurdistan as an independent region. In this area its better to live with Kurds. Because the experience we had with the Arabs was not pretty,” he said.
The US Senate recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which contains provision for local security in the Nineveh Plains. According to A Demand for Action, a global initiative for the defense of Christians in Iraq and Syria:
Now that we have obtained sanction in the form of legistlative language passed by the American Senate, we must step up our efforts to support our people in Nineveh in their desire to protect their homeland.
Spread word of our news to media outlets. Contact your MPs, ministers, and politicians and inform them that the hard work of our people in organising themselves militarily and showing the world their willingness to fight has been recognised by the world’s military superpower, but that they urgently need help from governments in their struggle to defend the living heritage of ancient Assyria.
This help must come in the form of arming, equipping, training, and supplying Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac military divisions.
For all of those compassionate Christian people who have desired to help fund the Christian militants who are fighting ISIS, to protect their churches and their towns, now is your opportunity to finally fund and support Christian fighters who are combating Islamic jihad.
For all of those heroic men from America, from Europe, from Australia, who have volunteered to us to help protect Christians, click here to contact the Restore Nineveh Now project and see if they need any help.
Christ said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17) And we ask you, with all of the horrors and ravishments, with all of the plunders and massacres Christians have been suffering through, to please give unto God what belongs to Him. The churches in the East, they are of the oldest Christian societies in the history of our Holy Faith, and the Christians of these lands, they are the inheritors of the Apostles. And when we see brave Christian men, raising up arms like the Maccabees, taking up their weapons like the warriors of Nehemiah, “with their swords, their spears, and their bows” (Nehemiah 4:13), and fighting off the enemies of God to defend their churches and their lands, who would not be so cold, so indifferent, so callous, to not support this most holy cause?
This is a holy cause, and those who are prepared to sacrifice themselves for their safety of the brethren, and for the perpetuation of the true Faith, they are fighting in a holy war. Support this pious militia, who are laying down their lives for the protection of Christians. Christ declared to St. Paul, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4) Thus, when Christians are persecuted, Christ is persecuted, and therefore, when Christians protect each other, they are protecting Christ from being abused, mistreated, scoffed, and oppressed.
When the Jews were planning on killing St. Paul, the commander called upon two centurions and ordered them to “Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night; and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” (Acts 23:23-24) If then God honored pagan soldiers to protect His Church, then what is stopping us from supporting Christian warriors from protecting God’s Church from peril and destruction?
Life is not that long, and we are here, not for ourselves, but for the advancement of the Holy Faith, the Church, and for the cause of the Divine Law of God. Tell me, then, since life is so short, what more fulfilling way to spend this life than to give aid to a valiant force of Christian fighters who are combating savages of the most evilest order?
St. James says, “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22) How are we to be doers of the word if we, seeing Christians fighting and dying for their Faith, do nothing in support of them? We must be doers of the Faith, and thus must we help and support our brothers in arms.
When the gallant Gideon was fighting against the pagan Midianites, who wanted to take the temples of God and pervert them with their pagan rituals, he told the people of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.” (Judges 8:5) The princes of Succoth did not look at the soldiers of Gideon with pity, seeing that they were exhausted from fighting such a formidable enemy — no — they were callous and indifferent, mockingly telling Gideon, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?” (Judges 8:6)
Such cruel men are those who see this brave militia, and have no desire to help them, they are the greatest enemy, and the reason why the enemy advances over our holy Christian lands and churches. In the end, to such cold hearted reprobates, Christ “will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers!” (Judges 8:7)
Let us love the Brotherhood of Christ, and with full zeal and commitment, support the cause to defend the churches that are in the eyes of the predator Muslims, who say among themselves, with Zebah and Zalmunah, “Let us take for ourselves the pastures of God for a possession.” (Psalm 83:12)
Here is a photo of Christian men enlisting in the militia
St. Peter tells us to “Love the brotherhood. Fear God.” (1 Peter 2:17) How can we say that we love the brotherhood and fear God, and yet not support this holy militia? How many churches have to be destroyed, how many Christians have to die, before we lend our hands to aid this brave body of pious fighters?
With the beautiful work that this militia is doing, we are reminded of the words of Pope Urban II, when he cried out to the warriors of Christendom to fight off the Muslims at the commencement of the holy crusades, declaring to the knights of God:
If in olden times the Maccabees attained to the highest praise of piety because they fought for the ceremonies and the Temple, is is also justly granted you, Christian soldiers, to defend the liberty of your country by armed endeavor.
There was outrage expressed throughout the Western world on what Christians have been enduring, and now is the time to put that outrage to action. Support the militia! Support this holy cause! Exemplify what Christian charity is, and give what you can to help these courageous men.
Here are some great pictures of the militia: