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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces have opened doors to the region’s Christian population and recruit them to join the fight against the Islamic State (IS), an official told Rudaw.

 

 

“Representatives of the ministry of Peshmerga visited Ainkawa to recruit Christians,” said Jalal Habib Aziz, the mayor of Ainkawa, a predominately Christian neighborhood in Erbil.

 

According to Aziz, the Kurdish Peshmerga Ministry has answered a call by Christian leaders to recruit members of the community to “protect themselves and their areas.”

 

“We ask the young people of the Chaldean and Assyrian [communities] to register themselves to serve in the ranks of the Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan,” Aziz.

 

Men between the ages of 18-30 can now sign up for training with the Peshmerga forces, according to local officials.

 

Ainkawa is home to hundreds of thousands of Christian refugees who fled Mosul and the Nineveh plains in June and August when Islamist militants captured their cities.

 

On other occasions, Christian leaders had asked the Kurdish authorities to arm their youth to defend Christian towns across the major frontlines between the Peshmerga and IS forces.

 

Similar units have already been created among the Kurdish Yezidi community whose young fighters are now battling the IS militants on Mount Shingal and its surrounding villages.

 

 

 

 

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