US Veterans Fighting IS With Assyrian Christian Militia

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Basnews | Luke Coleman
Former American Soldier Brett Royales
Foreign fighters “ready to die” for cause
ERBIL :Two Americans, Brett Royales and Louis Park, have given an interview to Radio Free Iraq from the Nineveh Plain, where they are defending the towns of Alqosh, Baqofa and Sharafiya against Islamic State (IS).

They are volunteering with Dwekh Nawsha, an Assyrian Christian militia group. The name translates from Aramaic as “self-sacrificers” and has seen a growing number of foreign fighters swell its ranks.

Royales, a former infantryman with the US army, explained that he was motivated to join the fight after witnessing the atrocities on television.

“I can’t sit home and watch what’s going on here – the atrocities, crucifixions, rapes, sex slaves, people being driven out from their towns. It’s unacceptable to me, so I’m here to do what I can to get people back in their homes and protect their way of life.

“Daesh [IS] doesn’t belong here.”

He said that he had seen combat and helped identify where some IS fighters were hiding out in Batnaya. “We picked out the houses they were hiding in, and the US came along and bombed out the houses,” he told Radio Free Iraq.

Both men said that they are prepared to die for the cause. “The last thing I’m afraid of is dying. I’m not worried about being captured, I’m not worried about being killed,” said Royales, while Park referred to his past in the Marines as evidence that he was “ready for that.”

“I already made that choice in Afghanistan,” he said. “I’m here to provide anything they need – so training, just being a fighter myself.

I’m here to kill Daesh, but in the Marine Corps we learned about small unit leadership; I’m going to help them train as a small unit as well, and that way we can all be more effective.”

Neither men are being paid. Park told Radio Free Iraq, “I’m not being paid at all, I’m being fed and I’m being armed and clothed and everything, but any gear that I need, I’m paying out of pocket. This is all money that I saved for this effort myself, because I believe in the cause a lot, so I’m willing to finance everything.”

Royales explained, “If I wanted to fight for money, I’d have joined a mercenary group, the YPG [Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units].

But I don’t want to come here and fight. I want to come here and defend, so that these people can come back to their land.”

As many as 200,000 Assyrian Christians fled their homes on the Nineveh Plain last July, when IS launched assaults from Mosul.