The Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU), a Christian militia in Iraq, is celebrating the hoisting up of a new cross in the destroyed city of Qaraqosh (also known as Baghdeda) that once had 50,000 Christians living there.
The event heralded the opening of a new chapter in the city and, hopefully, for the Christians and other victims of Islamist genocide in Iraq.
The NPU thanked a French organization named “SOS Chretiens Orient” (SOS Eastern Christians) that sponsored the cross and the rebuilding of homes in the area. I took a tour of one NPU member’s home in this city in January, a video of which can be seen here.
Those I met expressed that their churches and homes may have been destroyed, but their faith is stronger and they are determined to return and fill the church pews more than they did before. The excitement is palpable on the NPU’s social media, with Easter holiday celebrations taking place again and preparations being made for the Christians who will soon return.
In a recent video, the NPU asked the international community to establish a safe-zone for the Christians and other minorities like the Yazidis. The group wants a province for these minorities in the Nineveh Plains that is separate from the Kurdish Regional Government that rules northern Iraq.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s Shillman Fellow and national security analyst and an adjunct professor of counter-terrorism.