JUAN CARLOS photographer fotografo reportage editorial conflict

Iraq's Christians Turn to Miliita for Protection


for The Wall Street Journal

Text by Margherita Stancati and Ali A. Nabhan 

QARAQOSH, Iraq—Two years ago, Mubarak Tuwaya fled when Islamic State militants made a triumphant charge through northern Iraq.

Now he is back in his hometown, wearing the uniform of an Iraqi militia that is helping drive out the extremists—and aiming to secure a place for Christians and other local minorities in Iraq’s future.

Capt. Tuwaya’s U.S.-trained force is made up of about 500 troops and 300 unpaid volunteers, most of them Assyrian Christians from Hamdaniya, a district east of Mosul that is home to Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian town.

The Iraqi army’s 9th Division captured the district with the militia’s support in late October, in the early days of the current U.S-backed campaign to retake Mosul, the Sunni extremist group’s last major stronghold in the country.

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