Christians in Iraq have formed a militia to take back their Nineveh Plains homeland from ISIS.
The organisation, the Nineveh Plains Protection Units, has more than 3,000 troops serving or awaiting training, and has the backing of the Iraqi Government and the Kurdish Peshmerga.
The force has 500 Assyrian Christian troops stationed in towns such as Alqosh in the Nineveh Plains to defend them from ISIS, with a further 500 being trained and another 3,000 men registered and awaiting training. 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 Assyrian forces are allied to the Iraqi Army and Kurds but do not take orders from either, and their aim is to establish an administrate area for the Assyrians and Yazidis, as well as other minorities such as Shabaks and Mandeans.
The group are funded by members of the Assyrian diaspora, which is mainly concentrated in the United States, Australia and Sweden, and they are being trained by an American security company. However they are short of funds.
There are around 5,000 people of Assyrian descent in Britain, many of whom were given citizenship on account of their fathers and grandfathers’ service in the Assyrian Levies, who fought alongside the British in the First and Second World War.
British-Assyrians are currently awaiting a response from the Foreign Office on whether it is legal or not to financially support the group.
John Michael, a British-Assyrian, said: “This is our last stand, if this fails then Christianity will be finished in Iraq.”