Iraq: Christian forces to defend land against Islamic State

Displaced family fleeing Islamic State violence, August 2014Reuters

More than 500 Iraqi Christian fighters have come together under the name of Ninevah Plains Force to defend their sacred lands against Islamic State (IS), reports The Kurdish Globe.

"The forces are fighting under Ministry of Peshmerga Commandment and their main task is to defend Christian lands and to take back their areas that have been occupied by ISIS," said Yelda Shimuel, the Head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party's headquarters in Telkef.

The Kurdish Globe reports that another force will also be formed and the recruitment process will start soon.

This follows months of hardship for hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians.

When IS captured Mosul in June, thousands of Christians were forced to leave everything behind and flee to neighbouring cities. Since then, IS has captured several other key cities in the north and west of Iraq causing many more to flee to Kurdistan region. IS has destroyed churches, Shiite mosques and other ancient sites in Mosul, and has stolen and sold millions of pounds worth of artefacts from churches across Iraq.

The Ninevah Plains Force are hoping to prevent further loss of land for their people.