Christian fighters join in the liberation of Mosul

A Christian militia formed in Iraq to defend its community from so-called Islamic State (ISIS) has joined the battle to liberate Mosul.

According to reports from the frontline as a coalition offensive got underway on the northern Iraqi city on Monday, some 1,500 Christian members of the Babylon Brigade are at the heart of the fighting to re-seize a city once home to at least 200,000 Christians –the highest concentration of Christian outside Kurdish areas.

The Babylon Brigade is just one of a number of Christian militias that formed in answer to ISIS aggression since 2014, but it is currently the biggest of all such groupings. Its fighters are battle hardened through their participation in the earlier offensives to free the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah from ISIS control. 


Victory in Mosul would be significant both for the ousted Christian community and Iraqi citizens who view Mosul as the site where ISIS first declared its caliphate.

Speaking to the Washington Examiner ahead of the Mosul advance, Dr Abbas Kadhim, Senior Foreign Policy Fellow with the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland said of the Babylon fighters: “They are sacrificing for patria, homeland, not just privileges. After all this is over, Iraq should recognise the Christians, especially. They have experienced a double ‘cleansing’ by [ISIS] — religious and ethnic.”

Christian militias in Iraq began to form in 2015 in the wake of the exodus of civilians ahead of ISIS takeovers of vast swathes of Iraqi territory. They were later identified by American observers of the conflict as groups that should receive US arms and backing. 


This was subsequently denounced – in May 2016 – by the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako who voiced concerns that the militias would be exploited by others for ends ultimately at odds with the best interests of Iraq’s dwindling Christian community.

This has cut little ice with the Babylon Brigade, whose leader, Rayan al Kildani, said earlier this year: “I know the Bible says that if you get hit on one cheek you should offer the other. But…no-one is going to do anything bad to the Christians. Christian suffering is over.” 

As The Irish Catholic went to press this week, coalition forces were closing on Mosul along five fronts.