A brave corps of about 2,000 Christian fighters in Iraq are training and taking up arms to reclaim their country from Islamic State (ISIS) militants, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The group is training at a former U.S. military facility to help protect vulnerable cities and villages, envisioning a new day when the Islamic State forces will be defeated, the Journal said.
While they are uncertain if they can fund training exercises for all of the men who hope to fight, they are also looking West to the U.S. for help, the Journal noted.
About 15,000 Christian Iraqis were displaced in the Islamic siege last year, according to their leaders, the Journal said, noting the potential for financial assistance and long ties within the U.S. among expatriates who are Chaldean Catholics of ethnic Assyrian origin.
"The U.S. National Defense Authorization Act, approved in December, names local security forces in Iraq as potential beneficiaries of as much as $1.6 billion to train and equip fighters against Islamic State," the Journal noted.
About 500 militia recruits are expected to be trained in February by several American military veteran volunteers, the Journal said, noting that those people were keeping their identities quiet amid fears of ISIS reprisals.
One trainer, 28, defended his work, even as U.S. officials remained quiet about their role.
"The Americans want to stay away from this because their view is, if you train the Christians, you’re starting some crazy religious war," he told the Journal. "Well, ISIS beat you to it."
More than 100,000 Iraqi Christians fled to Kurdistan last summer as marauding ISIS forces looted homes and churches and burned religious texts, France24 reported.
Despite their plight, the refugees, many of whom were forced with the choice of converting to Islam or death, say they are grateful to emerge alive.
Noted one elderly woman who was forced to flee her home in Mosul to the Gospel Herald:
"We've lost everything. The worst thing is that we don't know when or whether we will be able to return to our homeland. But none of us is angry at God. Fortunately, we are all still alive."
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