News Middle East

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Westerners join militia in 'holy war' against Isil

Isabel Coles

St Michael, the archangel of battle, is tattooed across the back of a US army veteran who has returned to Iraq and joined a Christian militia fighting Isil in what he sees as a biblical war between good and evil.

Brett (28) carries the same thumb-worn pocket Bible he did whilst deployed to Iraq in 2006 - a picture of the Virgin Mary tucked inside its pages and his favourite verses highlighted.

"It's very different," he said, asked how the experiences compared.

"Here I'm fighting for a people and for a faith, and the enemy is much bigger and more brutal."

Thousands of foreigners have flocked to Iraq and Syria in the past two years, mostly to join Isil, but a handful of Westerners are enlisting as well, citing frustration their governments are not doing more to combat the ultra-radical Islamists.

The militia they joined is called Dwekh Nawsha - meaning 'self-sacrifice' in the Aramaic language spoken by Christ and still used by Assyrian Christians.

Dwekh Nawsha operates alongside Kurdish peshmerga forces to protect Christian villages in Nineveh province in Iraq.

Brett, like other foreign volunteers, withheld his last name out of concern for his family's safety.

Irish Independent

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