Residents of a predominantly Christian Assyrian village in northern Iraq have reclaimed their home after fighting off Islamic State militants.
Bakufa was taken over by the Islamic State along with 22 other nearby villages during a militant attack throughout the region this past summer.
According to the Associated Press, many residents of Bakufa were forced to flee to Kurdish towns and other cities in northern Iraq. But in a counter-offensive, Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters formed a Christian militia, teaming up with volunteers to successfully drive IS from the village.
The militia was dubbed as Dwekh Nawsha, or “self-sacrifice,” and is made up of 70 volunteers.
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The AP reports that the militiamen must provide their own weapons to join and rely on donations from Christian charities overseas and wealthier members of the Iraqi Assyrian community.
Members of the militia then replaced the black Islamic State flag with their own Assyrian Patriotic Party flag at the entrance of the town, according to PressTV.
The men of Dwekh Nawsha now patrol Bakufa all day and all night, and the hope is that the militia can prevent further IS attacks so their families can return.
Bakufa is home to a large Christian community with about 120,000 members and the 200-year-old St. Gorgiz Monastery located in the center of the village.
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"It is the priority of Dwekh Nawsha to protect the sons of this region, as well as the region itself - including its monasteries, churches, artifacts,” 47-year-old militia commander, Albert Kisso, said.
Most members of the recently-formed group are local residents with little combat experience, but that doesn’t worry them.
“In my opinion, faith is greater than military experience,” Kisso said.
The local peshmerga brigade commander, Abdul Rahman Kawriny, told the AP: "We came here ... to protect our Christian brothers and their homes."
Watch the AP's report below: