The battle to free the city of Mosul from ISIS is underway, and Iraqi forces have inflicted heavy losses under the terrorist group.
Among the massive military force of Iraqi fighters are thousands of Christians taking part in the “last battle” against ISIS. Mosul represents the terrorist organization’s last stronghold in Iraq, and 60,000 fighters surrounded the city over the weekend.
The Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider Al-Abadi, tweeted Sunday night that “the hour has struck” for the battle to begin.
“Beloved people of Mosul, the Iraqi nation will celebrate victory as one,” Al-Abadi said.
The hour has struck. The campaign to liberate Mosul has begun. Beloved people of Mosul, the Iraqi nation will celebrate victory as one
— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) October 17, 2016
You can watch the battle unfold online via Facebook Live streams.
The “poster boy of Christian units” fighting in the battle is the Babylon Brigade, armed with about 1,500 Christian soldiers, according to the Washington Examiner. The Christians are fighting along Shia Muslims as part of popular mobilization units, a network of smaller fighting forces considered more enthusiastic and successful than many portions of the Iraqi army.
ISIS is thought to have a mere 6,000 fighters ready to defend Mosul. About 600,000 of the city’s civilians are expected to flee as the battle intensifies. The UN expects that they’ll be in desperate need as the attack gets underway.
In June, the Babylon Brigade tweeted that is was not just as “Christian” group, but among those for Iraq and against ISIS.
— Iraqi PMU English (@pmu_english) June 19, 2016
About 200,000 Christians fled in 2014 when ISIS militants swept through northern Iraq. The Kurdish Peshmerga provided protection for the Christians, but the group disappeared as ISIS advanced through the Biblical region of the Nineveh Plains, which had been home to Assyrians and Chaldeans for centuries.
Iraqi Christians have raised small, fierce military forces over the last two years, which are now among the hundreds of thousands poised surrounding Mosul. Should Mosul be taken back from ISIS, the Christians will again have a safe haven in the region.