ASIA/IRAQ - Barzani: ready to arm Christian volunteers

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Erbil (Agenzia Fides) - The Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, announced that the government of the autonomous Region of northern Iraq is ready to open its doors to Christian volunteers among the Kurdish armed forces by providing them with the means to create self-defense forces in their villages and defend themselves from jihadi militias of the Islamic State (IS). This willingness was expressed in a statement issued by the Presidency of the Region on Monday evening, August 18, after a meeting between Barzani and the Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Basil. The statement reiterates that the Government of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan will do "everything in its power" for Christian refugees, and calls on Christians "not to think about emigrating and leaving the Country, because the threat of terrorism is temporary and terrorists will be defeated". On August 14, Barzano had received Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Personal Envoy of the Pope in Iraq. Already on that occasion, Barzani had hoped that Christians would remain in Iraq, recognizing in them a part of the most ancient culture and tradition in the Country. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 20/08/2014)