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07/27/2019 Iraq (International Christian Concern) –  The U.S. announcement of Iraqi Magnitsky sanctions, which included Rayan al-Kildani, has made significant waves within Iraq. Kildani heads the Babylon Brigade, a PMF militia that styles itself as the “Christian militia.” However, the militia is backed by Iran and composed primarily of Shi’ite Muslims. Kildani himself is Christian, but evidence shows he facilitates human rights abuses.

Iranian backed militias have heavily antagonized Christians in the Nineveh Plains who are seeking to reconstruct their lives following displacement. Iraq is under significant pressure from the US to untangle their reliance upon these militias for security. As a result, the Iraqi Prime Minister issued an executive order which seeks to integrate militias into the country’s official armed forces structure.

This week, the Chaldean Church issued an official disapproval of armed groups connected with the nominally Christian militias of the PMF. In the spirit of the executive order, the church encouraged that Christians enlist in the official Iraqi army or the federal police (or Peshmerga, for those who reside in the KRG). The church believes that limiting weapons to the state, strengthening state institutions, and reinforcing the national identity of Iraqis are all important steps for protecting the longevity of Christianity in the region.

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