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Iraqi archbishop calls for British boots on the ground to fight ISIS

Displaced Iraqi Christians who fled from ISIS militants in Mosul pray at a school acting as a refugee camp (CNS)

Iraq needs British “boots on the ground” to halt the genocide of the country’s Christians and other minorities at the hands of Islamist terrorists, a Chaldean archbishop has told Parliament this week.

Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil pleaded with Parliamentarians to do all in their power to persuade the Government to authorise the deployment of British troops to help to drive out ISIS fighters from the Nineveh Plain.

“It is hard for a Catholic bishop to say that we have to advocate a military action but we have to go for that. There is no other option,” he told a meeting in the House of Lords where he was a guest of Lord Alton on Liverpool.

Archbishop Warda’s diocese covers the Kurdish-controlled territory which since last summer has become the home to more than 120,000 Iraqi Christian refugees who fled as ISIS overran such cities and towns as Mosul, Qaraqosh and Karamles.

He said that US-led airstrikes have made some impact on the activities of ISIS but that they were “not enough” to liberate the Christian settlements on the Nineveh Plain.

“If you are politicians I beg you to focus on that, to speak about this,” Archbishop Warda said.

“Military action is needed, a powerful one where they could really get those people out of these villages so that our people and others can return. Please use all of your efforts to make this happen.”

Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP for Gainsborough and a Catholic, asked the archbishop outright if he was “suggesting that this country sends in troops again?”

Archbishop Warda answered: “Yes,” adding that the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Peshmerga militia were insufficiently well-trained or equipped to defeat ISIS, which, he said, also posed a greater threat to the West than Afghanistan under the Taliban and Al Qaeda and which was attracting increasing numbers of fighters to their cause.

“Someone has to do the fighting,” he said.

Pope Francis, he added, was also convinced of the moral case for international military action to defeat ISIS.