IraqMiddle East

Iraqi Christian Fighters Take Control of Bakufa in Nineveh

Iraqi Christian Militia Take Control of Bakufa in Nineveh + Video

A Christian militia group has taken control of the northern Iraqi town of Bakufa, which, just until over a month ago, was in the hands of extremists from the so-called “Islamic State” group.
The Assyrian Patriotic Party flag has replaced the black flag of the Sunni militants and is waving on the roof of a building at the entrance to the town.
The town was recaptured from the IS by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and is now partly controlled by the Dwekh Nawsha (Assyrian for ‘self-sacrifice’), a recently-formed Christian militia.
With more than 22 villages, the area around Bakufa has a large Christian community with an estimated 120-thousand members.
The Dwekh Nawsha has only 70 active members, most of whom are local residents and have no experience in warfare.
Albert Kisso, a 47-year-old member of the Iraqi Assyrian Patriotic Party, is one of the leaders of the Dwekh Nawsha, which has no formal ranks.
“The purpose behind forming this force, the Dwekh Nawsha force, is to protect Christian territories in Nineveh province, particularly the north part of Nineveh Province”, Albert Kisso, Member of Assyrian Patriotic Party, Leader of Dwekh Nawsha militia told.
“I only have little bit of experience, but we have faith and in my opinion faith is greater than military experience,” says Kisso.
Like all the other members, he is from the region and knows the area very well.
Kisso said the purpose of the militia was to protect the Christian territories in the area.
“It is the priority of Dwekh Nawsha to protect the sons of this area and also the area itself, including monasteries, churches, artifacts. Because this is the beauty of the Mesopotamian civilization”, Albert Kisso, told.
He said that Christians found themselves helpless following the IS offensive and wanted to do something to protect their villages.
The Christian militia isn’t active on the frontline, but it cooperates with the Kurdish Peshmerga forces by giving them information about the area.
Some of the Bakufa residents came back to their hometown after the ISIS terrorisrs were pushed back by the Peshmerga, among them, 47-year-old farmer, Faisel Habibi Yago.
Yago welcomed the formation of Dwekh Nawsha, but said he would feel more secure in the presence of international forces.
Due to lack of funding, Dwekh Nawsha has very few weapons at its disposal but Peshmerga backs Dwekh Nawsha forces in the region.
“We, the Peshmerga came here from Irbil to protect our Christian brothers and their homes. There is constant cooperation and assistance from both sides. We are always together, particularly he and I are in constant contact. We phone each other, we meet and visit each other. And whenever it is needed, in any situation we back each other up”, Dr Abdul Rahman Kawriny, Peshmerga commander told.
Some 250 people are willing to join the militia, but without weapons, they have to wait their turn.
They have to pay for everything else out of their own pockets or rely on the generosity of community members.
Bakufa, located 30 kilometres (19 miles) north of Mosul, is an ancient town with a 200-year-old Christian monastery in the town centre.

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