Some Christians in the Middle East are taking up arms in order to halt Islamic State (once known as ISIS) aggression.
Where is it happening? It’s happening in Lebanon and northern Iraq. Lebanese Christians are worried that the brutality directed at Christian communities in Iraq and Syria could be directed at them. Parts of Northern Iraq, of course, have already been subject to the Islamic State’s brutal aggression.
Lebanese Christians have watched as the Islamic State has overrun Christian communities in Iraq and Syria. Last month, militants overran a Lebanese town and kidnapped soldiers and police, heightening the feeling among Lebanese Christians that Islamist militants like the Islamic State could destroy them as well.
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For the first time since the Lebanese Civil War ended in 1990, Lebanese Christians are forming self-defense units to protect against the Islamic State and other militants. One Christian villager said, “We all know that if they (Islamist militants) come, they will slit our throats for no reason.”
Thousands of Iraqi and Syrian Christians have already been displaced (if not beheaded, crucified, or sold into sex slavery) by the Islamic State and other Islamist militants.
Now, Iraqi Christians are taking to arms. Henry Sarkis, an Israeli Christian, says, “We’re being killed in our homes, so why not defend ourselves? Then even if we die, we die with dignity. We didn’t want to reach this point — we just want to live in our areas.” According to the CIA, Christian numbers in Iraq have dwindled from 1.5 million in 2003 to less than 500,000 today.
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David William Lazar, chairman of the American Mesopotamian Organization, said:
“There are thousands of young Assyrian Christian men that have volunteered to join the protection units we’re planning on establishing in the coming weeks and months. Situations like this need political consensus before anything takes place on the ground. While there are hundreds of individuals that are armed with small weapons at this time, the bulk of the force is yet to be organized. Most of our areas in the Nineveh Plain are still under ISIS control and it doesn’t look like the Kurdish militias will be able to remove them without help from the International community.”
Whether in Iraq or Lebanon, it is clear that the first signs of Christian resistance to the Islamic State are beginning to show.
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