(Reuters/Ahmed Saad)Iraqi security forces wait for vehicles travelling to Mosul to fight against militants of Islamic State at an Iraqi army base in Camp Taji in Baghdad, February 21, 2016.
The United States could offer financial support to Christian militias fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) through a defense spending bill that has yet to be approved by the U.S. Congress and Senate.
A previous U.S. bill had provided financial support for security troops in the Nineveh Plain. The current bill, on the other hand, targets money for national security missions of vetted indigenous and Iraqi Christian militias, the Catholic Herald details.
In an interview with Christian Today, A Demand for Action (ADFA) executive director Steve Oshana said the bill is significant because it reflects a bigger commitment from the United States to back the Christian forces battling ISIS. He added that the move acknowledges the troops’ legitimacy as anti-ISIS fighting forces.
Last month, the BBC documented an interview with the leader of a Christian militia called the “Babylon Brigade.” Rayan al-Kildani recounted how the extremists’ atrocities against Christians left them no choice except to form their own militia and take up arms to fight ISIS.
In the last couple of years, around 30 militias have been formed to prevent ISIS from advancing to the north and west of Iraq. Each unit has around 100,000 volunteers. Some of the groups are Shia and Sunni Muslims.
When asked about the biblical basis of their fight against the Islamic State, Kildani said they have to defend themselves. “Jesus himself told us that if you don’t have a sword you should go out and buy one,” the Babylon Brigade leader answered.
The central government of Iraq covers the expenses of these militias. Collectively, they are paid about US$1.4 billion a year. Each of al-Kildani’s men receives more than US$600 a month for his efforts to defend the country against the militants.
The passing of the bill to provide financial support to anti-ISIS Christian militias comes after U.S. lawmakers declared that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The House of Representatives voted unanimously on the declaration.