A new phenomenon is spreading through the Christian towns and villages of northern Iraq: Christian security forces, organized through their local churches, are manning checkpoints and working with the Iraqi police.
A few years ago, Christian churches were being bombed and thousands of Christian families in Baghdad and elsewhere were terrorized into fleeing their homes. Many of them wound up in the north, where they seem to be thriving.
Displacing Iraqi Christians
Qaraqosh is a peaceful town of 50,000 people. But because it's just a few miles east of the northern city of Mosul, one of the most dangerous places in Iraq, security is high.
Every vehicle is stopped, most drivers are questioned, and many cars are searched by members of the Qaraqosh Protection Committee, an all-Christian security force that is spreading to Christian villages across the north.
The coordinator for the Qaraqosh Protection Committee is Sabah Behnem, who says outside agendas — from the Sunnis of al-Qaida to the Shiites in Iran — were behind the brutal efforts to displace Iraqi Christians.
According to NPR, the growth of Christian militias is tied to the fate of the mainly Christian Assyrian minority which is located in the roughly the same region as Kurds, so the two groups appear to grown an uneasy alliance. And all the money comes "without strings" through a mysterious man, who has worked with Kurdish government, named "Mr. Sarkis."
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