Christian fighters defiantly hoist their flag above town recaptured from ISIS

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Cath Martin
REUTERS/Azad Lashkar
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters pose near a wall on which the black flag commonly used by Islamic State militants has been painted over, in the northern Iraqi town of Zumar, October 26, 2014, after having taken it from Islamic State.
The residents of a pre-dominantly Christian Assyrian hamlet in northern Iraq are bravely holding off the Islamic State after driving the militants out a few weeks ago.

Bakufa was taken over by the Islamic State along with 22 other villages nearby in a frighteningly efficient offensive across the region during the summer.

While many of the residents were forced to flee to Kurdish towns and cities elsewhere, the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters successfully reclaimed the village and have now established a militia of volunteers to stand guard around the clock, the Associated Press reports.

The militia goes by the name of Dwekh Nawsha, meaning “self-sacrifice” in Assyrian, and is made up of around 70 volunteers.

The Associated Press reports that the militiamen must provide their own weapons and are relying on Christian charities abroad and wealthier members of the Iraqi Assyrian community to survive.

Now the flag of the Assyrian Patriotic Party has been hoisted over the village and the hope is that the militia will be able to hold off any further attacks from the IS so that all the villagers can return home.

The Christian presence in Iraq’s Nineveh province goes back thousands of years and Bakufa is home to a 200-year-old monastery, St Gorgiz.

Militia commander Albert Kisso said: “It is the priority of Dwekh Nawsha to protect the sons of this region, as well as the region itself – including its monasteries, churches, artifacts.”

Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled their homes as a result of the IS onslaught. There have been horrific reports of rapes and executions carried out on those who defy the IS militants and their strict Sharia rules.

The local peshmerga brigade commander, Abdul Rahman Kawriny told the Associated Press: “We came here … to protect our Christian brothers and their homes.”