Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | MidPoint | Matthew VanDyke | Sons of Liberty | train | Iraqi | fighters

SOLI's VanDyke: I'm Training Iraqi Christians to Fight ISIS

Tuesday, 10 Mar 2015 09:55 PM

An American filmmaker and writer on the Mideast who once fought alongside rebels in Libya has a new project underway: training Iraqi Christians to take on the Islamic State.

Sons of Liberty International (SOLI), billed as the world's first not-for-profit security contractor, is already recruiting and arming Christians in Iraq's Niveneh region, founder and CEO Matthew VanDyke told "MidPoint" guest host John Bachman on Newsmax TV  Tuesday.

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A battalion of Iraqi Christians trained by SOLI will deploy to northern Iraq soon, said VanDyke.

Christians in areas overrun by the Islamic State (ISIS) have little or no military capability of their own, and are not being protected by other factions, said Van Dyke.

"The Peshmerga have not defended them in Iraq," he said, "or the Kurdish fighters in Syria have not been able to defend them. So they're vulnerable to ISIS raids, as we saw in Syria — ISIS coming in and kidnapping people

"It's a very dire situation," said VanDyke, "and they have to act very quickly."

VanDyke said his organization, founded in December, stepped in and trained a full battalion cost-effectively and "a lot more efficiently than the government could."

But he said his group and the Iraqis he is working with need all the help they can get, and he pitched his cause to "anybody around the world who hates ISIS and wants to help Christianity in Iraq."

"We've had a good response so far but a lot more is needed for us to continue and … expand operations in Iraq," he said.

He said the new recruits do not lack for will or motivation.

"They've suffered greatly," said VanDyke. "They've wanted their own defense force for a long time. Their entire history is being wiped out, as ISIS attacks historical sites that are Assyrian, Iraqi historical sites. They've had women kidnapped and sold as jihadi brides or sex slaves. They've had their homes destroyed.

"It's a very motivated, willing population that's ready to stand up and defend themselves," he said. "They're very capable, we've worked with them since December and they're a very U.S.-friendly force. They should be supported and we're doing our best to support them."

VanDyke also talked about the risks of a forthcoming offensive against ISIS in Tikrit.

"There's no doubt that ISIS will be defeated in Tikirit," he said. "It's a matter of how long it will take, and more importantly how much damage will be done to the city and to the Sunni population in the city.

"This could be a turning point in the conflict," said VanDyke, "if the Sunni population is treated well and feels that they weren't persecuted from either the Iraqi government or the Shia militias.

"More likely, though, it's going to spark further sectarianism and possibly an alignment between some of the Sunni population and ISIS — perhaps even stronger than it's been so far," he said.

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An American filmmaker and writer on the Mideast who once fought alongside rebels in Libya has a new project underway: training Iraqi Christians to take on the Islamic State. Sons of Liberty International (SOLI), billed as the world's first not-for-profit security...
Matthew VanDyke, Sons of Liberty, train, Iraqi, fighters
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2015-55-10
Tuesday, 10 Mar 2015 09:55 PM
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