First Christian militia set up in village near Nineveh
Hit by a truck bomb last year, attacked by militias, forced to pay money to al-Qaeda, the inhabitants of Tal Asquf have set up their own security force to patrol the entry points to their village.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The place is called Tal Asquf and is located in northern Iraq, not far from Nineveh. It is the first Christian village to have taken security into its own hands. Tired of paying jizya or protection money to al-Qaeda’s men, the village of 8,000 inhabitants turned instead to its Kurdish neighbours. Now Kurdish peshmerga control the area around the village whilst some 200 armed Christians are in charge its entry points. According to Middle East Online, since the arrangement was introduced, Christian militiamen have never had to use their weapons.

Last year the village was hit by a truck bomb that killed seven people and since then it has been the frequent target of Sunni and Shiite fighters. “The terrorists want to kill us because we are Christian,” said militia group leader Abu Nataq. But “if we don't defend ourselves, who will?” he asked.

“We asked for the help of Kurdistan, the peshmerga,” Nataq said. The latter provided Kalashnikov rifles and radios and Christian militiamen get about 200 dollars a month from the Arbil administration.

Christian fighters are stationed at the village's four entry points and mobile teams patrol the streets, especially those around the Chaldean Catholic church of St George.

“In Mosul, my children were not able to play in the street. I didn't want to let my 12-year-old daughter go to school. I was so worried about her,” said one of the fighters.

“We are virtually living on top of one another and everything is expensive because the shopkeepers know that we cannot make the trip into Mosul,” he added.

But he is one of those who guard the church.