An Assyrian Christian militia group has announced that it has liberated a village from ISIS. The Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU) announced last week that it had recaptured Badanah, a village southeast of Mosul, with the help of the U.S.-led coalition.
The group posted pictures and a video showing NPU fighters entering the abandoned area. The NPU revealed that this was the first operation supported by the international coalition, which provided weapons and supported the liberation of the village through airstrikes.
Bahnam Abush, the commander of the group, said that Iraqi and Kurdish forces known as the Peshmerga are also cooperating with the NPU. He estimated that half of the Christians who used to live in the area fled because of ISIS' infiltration. The Nineveh Plains was captured by ISIS in 2014.
"The operation is a step towards restoration of their confidence and hopes for Christians to stay in the land of their grandparents," he said to Iraqi media.
The Iraqi Shiite militia referred to the NPU as a partner in a tweet announcing the liberation of Badanah.
In February 2015, the NPU reported that it had over 3,000 troops in line for training. The NPU is funded by displaced Assyrians in Sweden, Australia and the U.S. Col. Jawat Habib Abboush, the deputy commander of NPU, stated that the group receives training from the U.S. army. Most of its leaders are former Iraqi army officers.
The NPU is just one Christian group among three. The Nineveh Plains Forces, another Christian army, also reportedly received training from U.S. military. The NPF is supported by the Peshmarga.
According to reports, the NPU and NPF remain rivals who often accuse each other of hidden agendas and fleeing from battles.
Another Christian militia operating in Iraq, the Babylon Brigade, is led by a man named Rayan al-Kildani. He refused to reveal the actual number of his troops but stated to the BBC that his brigade fights alongside Muslim forces. Kildani claimed that his militia is the first "Christian power" in Iraqi history.