efe-epaQaraqosh (Iraq)

A group of Christians from Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPPU) are monitoring the almost empty Iraqi city of Qaraqosh to avoid any possible attack by the Islamic State terror organization, EFE reported Saturday.

From the monitoring center No. 5, Ivan Elian Khader, a fighter from this Christian armed milita, told EFE while standing beside a machine gun that they were ready to face any danger or any infiltration attempts by IS militants.

Qaraqosh, capital of al-Hamdaniya district, was home to Iraq's largest Christian community before the Islamic State stormed the area in the summer of 2014. It had 55,000 inhabitants.

Khader, who graduated from the Faculty of Education, said it was about time they protected themselves after the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Iraqi army did not show any resistance when IS extremists arrived.

Khader and his comrades' shift in guarding and monitoring will last for seven days.

Inside the monitoring center, retired Gen. Benham Aboush, founder and commander of the NPPU, explained that his force consisted of 500 fighters, who had been trained by the United States special forces.

Aboush said that after what had happened and what he had seen with his own eyes, when no one came to help and protect his community, he promised himself to form a force and protect his people.

He said he saw women and children escaping to Erbil.

The force's main mission was to liberate the areas from the IS, according to Aboush.

On Oct. 24, 2016, the force was able to achieve its mission, and now the fighters control and protect the land so that the people regain confidence and hope to return.

The IS burned 90 percent of the houses, Abadi said, noting only five percent of them suffered irreparable damage.

Until Friday, only 350 families had returned, said the general whose house was also burned by the militants.

The force monitors the entrances and exits of the city, records the vehicles and the identities of the passengers, makes patrols and maintains checkpoints around the perimeter of Qaraqosh.

Since Nov., no serious security incidents have occurred, Aboush said, adding that all radicals had been captured when they tried to enter.