Assyrian forces liberate Christian village controlled by ISIS for two years

Badaneh was liberated on September 1, the NPU said.Facebook

A Christian militia says it has liberated an Assyrian village in northern Iraq, after two years under jihadist control.

The Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU) claimed on Saturday that ISIS militants had been driven out of Badaneh, a "traditionally Christian vilage" south of Mosul on September 1.

"Liberation of Badanah village in #Khazer axis by NPU warriors with the support of international coalition by airstrikes, heavy and middle weapons" said a statement from the NPU.

It posted videos and photos to its Facebook page, apparently showing the village being taken back under control by the NPU.

Badanah was initially taken by ISIS in June 2014, when it overran the Nineveh Plain and took a number of towns, cities and villages, including Mosul – once considered the heartland of Iraq's Christian's population.

But though Assyrian Christians are among a number of religious minorities who have suffered immensely under Islamic State, there has been some disagreement within the Assyrian community as to whether so-called 'Christian militias' should exist at all.

Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako said in May that supporting Christian forces would be "a bad idea".

"There are no 'Christian militias', but only politicized groups and simple people who are in desperate need of a salary," he said. "The remaining Christians in Iraq are only the poor and those belonging to the middle class, and among them, there are 100,000 displaced people."

The Assyrian Confederation of Europe (ACE), however, said it was concerned by Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako's comments.

"There is broad agreement between Assyrian organisations in Iraq and the diaspora that Assyrians must actively participate in the military campaign to liberate the Nineveh Plain and secure the area after the liberation," ACE said.

"The Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU), which is tasked with that mandate, is officially recognised and supported by the Iraqi government."