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Plight of Iraqi Christians Being Ignored by Iraqi Army, Christian Volunteers Report

SAFIN HAMED/AFP

Aleteia - published on 04/21/15 - updated on 06/07/17

The international community turns a blind eye

Lebanon/Aleteia (Aleteia.org/ar) – One cannot grasp the magnitude of the calamity facing Iraq and its minorities until one listens to the testimonies about their sufferings and persecution with which they have been afflicted in that war-torn country.

Those who are religiously and ideologically opposed to ISIS have been forced to learn first-hand about the terrorism and barbarity that it has unleashed upon Iraq’s minorities. What stirs even greater anger and animosity are stories being related regarding the Iraqi Government’s ambivalence towards the fate of the Christian and Yazidi minorities. They have been left alone to face ISIS and its affiliates, many of whom are Ba’athists and other armed groups. 

The most stirring stories are those being told by several young European and American volunteers who are committed Christians. They have gone to Iraq in order to respond to what they say is a call of duty to defend the Christian groups in northern Iraq and Nineveh. They joined the fight against ISIS during their widespread attacks throughout northern Iraq last summer.

Unfortunately, the thing that has shocked these volunteers, according to their own accounts, is that the Iraqi Government does not care about the fate of the Christians and Yazidis, who happen to be their fellow countrymen. It has abandoned them to deal with their inevitable fate of facing ISIS alone. They are alone against an enemy that takes every opportunity to show its strength and power and practice methods of psychological warfare upon its victims via beheadings and sending suicide bombers to stir up fear in the hearts of their enemies. 

Western Christian volunteers are heading to the front in northern Iraq intending to deploy to the front lines in order to fight ISIS. Once there, they are surprised by how well ISIS fighters are armed. They are equipped with American-made Abrams Tanks, heavy artillery and rocket launchers. They are also equipped with modern technological devices such as that used for communications and operations management. In comparison, the Peshmerga and the Yazidis and Christians who are allied with them are ill-equipped with machine guns, a few anti-tank launchers and anti-aircraft artillery.   

Volunteers relate that, “The Kurdish and Christian fighters are courageous, but they need more support at a time when allied bombing raids have, more often than not, failed to lead to the desired results. The air raids are targeting random locations at a time when they are most needed to break the resolve of the heavily armed terrorists who are prepared for a psychological and ideological fight.”

The situation for the Christians and those who remain with them in northern Iraq is also poor. Volunteers relate that they number in the hundreds, but they lack the weapons and ammunition sufficient to face the size of the battle. They receive no support from foreign countries that appear to not even care about their plight. However, there are a number of American and Western Christian organizations and associations providing support. Meanwhile, those Christian and Yazidi forces are stuck between the Peshmerga Kurdish forces who are apathetic towards their fate and the Iraqi government, which is embroiled in its own problems in trying to regain control of regions of central Iraq from Tikrit to Mosul as well as other regions.  

These volunteers say that regaining control of Mosul and the Nineveh plain from ISIS will exact an exorbitant cost with regards to blood, losses of life and material. This may not be possible without an alliance between the Kurds and Baghdad, which would not happen without cooperation from the local Sunni population in central Iraq.

Volunteers returning from Iraq have related that most of the leaders in ISIS who are fighting in these regions were officers of the former Iraqi Army who know these areas extremely well. These individuals are adept at fighting in the vast desert regions of Iraq and know the appropriate time to retreat or to take the initiative to fight. This complicates their battles with ISIS and lengthens their duration indefinitely.

The solution to this problem, in the opinion of these volunteers, is that they need to be patient and wait for the ideal circumstances to present themselves to obtain victory over the terrorists.    

Translated from the Arabic by Donald Puhlman.

Tags:
Christians in the Middle EastIraqIslamist Militants
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