ASIA/IRAQ - Clash between self-proclaimed "Christian militias" operating in the Nineveh Plain

Monday, 17 July 2017 oriental churches   middle east   sectaniarism   paramilitary groups  


Qaraqosh (Agenzia Fides) Niniveh Plain Protection Units (NPU) have blamed the so-called "Babylonian Brigades" for having broken into one of their posts to seize military supplies and, above all, to release six of their militiamen, previously arrested on charges of looting private houses and Christian churches, including the Mar Behnam monastery.
The episode, which took place on Saturday, July 15 in Qaraqosh area, highlights the difficult moment the region is living, where various armies and militias operate, who have decided to cut themselves a space in the area after the defeat inflicted on the jihadists of the Islamic State (Daesh) and the reconquest of Mosul.
The Nineveh Plain Protection Units represent a local military organization, formed in part by native Christians and formed in 2014 as a territorial self-defense militia.
The so-called "Babylonian Brigades", headed by Ryan al Kildani (Rayan the Chaldean), also claim their label of Christian militias, although their connection with Shiite militias such as the Popular Protection Units (Hashd Al Shaabi) also operate in the area. The "Lions" of the "Babylonian Brigades" present themselves as "Christian citizens trained to defend the Christian cities of Mesopotamia by foreign terrorist criminals of the Islamic State (Daesh) and terrorists from countries such as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Tunisia, Turkey, Kuwait, Libya and Morocco".
Agenzia Fides has documented on several occasions the will of the Chaldean Patriarchate to mark his distance from active armed groups on the Iraqi scene seeking to affirm their affiliation to local Christian communities. In March 2016 (see Fides 15/3/2016), Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako had issued an official statement to reiterate that the Chaldean Church "has no direct or indirect link with the so-called "Babylonian Brigades" nor with any other armed militia that presents itself as Christian".
The Mar Behnam monastery, occupied by the jihadists of Daesh in July 2014 and partially destroyed by them in March 2015, had been regained by the Iraqi army and Shiite militias in November 2016. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 17/7/2017)