By Isabel Coles DUHOK, Iraq (Reuters) - Saint Michael, the archangel of battle, is tattooed across the back of a U.S. army veteran who recently returned to Iraq and joined a Christian militia fighting Islamic State in what he sees as a biblical war between good and evil. Brett, 28, carries the same thumb-worn pocket Bible he did whilst deployed to Iraq in 2006 – a picture of the Virgin Mary tucked inside its pages and his favorite verses highlighted. “It's very different," he said, asked how the experiences compared. "Here I’m fighting for a people and for a faith, and the enemy is much bigger and more brutal." Thousands of foreigners have flocked to Iraq and Syria in the past two years, mostly to join Islamic State, but a handful of idealistic Westerners are enlisting as well, citing frustration their governments are not doing more to combat the ultra-radical Islamists or prevent the suffering of innocents. The militia they joined is called Dwekh Nawsha – meaning self-sacrifice in the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Christ and still used by Assyrian Christians, who consider themselves the indigenous people of Iraq. A map on the wall in the office of the Assyrian political party affiliated with Dwekh Nawsha marks the Christian towns in northern Iraq, fanning out around the city of Mosul. The majority are now under control of Islamic State, which overran Mosul last summer and issued am ultimatum to Christians: pay a tax, convert to Islam, or die by the sword. Most fled. Dwekh Nawsha operates alongside Kurdish peshmerga forces to protect Christian villages on the frontline in Nineveh province. “These are some of the only towns in Nineveh where church bells ring. In every other town the bells have gone silent, and that’s unacceptable,” said Brett, who has "The King of Nineveh" written in Arabic on the front of his army vest. Brett, who like other foreign volunteers withheld his last name out of concern for his family's safety, is the only one to have engaged in fighting so far. The others, who arrived just last week, were turned back from the frontline on Friday by Kurdish security services who said they needed official authorization. "STOP SOME ATROCITIES" Tim shut down his construction business in Britain last year, sold his house and bought two plane tickets to Iraq: one for himself and another for a 44-year-old American software engineer he met through the internet. The men joined up at Dubai airport, flew to the Kurdish city of Suleimaniyah and took a taxi to Duhok, where they arrived last week. “I’m here to make a difference and hopefully put a stop to some atrocities,” said 38-year-old Tim, who previously worked in the prison service. “I’m just an average guy from England really.” Scott, the software engineer, served in the U.S. Army in the 1990s, but lately spent most of his time in front of a computer screen in North Carolina. He was mesmerized by images of Islamic State militants hounding Iraq's Yazidi minority and became fixated on the struggle for the Syrian border town of Kobani -- the target of a relentless campaign by the jihadists, who were held off by the lightly armed Kurdish YPG militia, backed by U.S. air strikes. Scott had planned to join the YPG, which has drawn a flurry of foreign recruits, but changed his mind four days before heading to the Middle East after growing suspicious of the group's ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). He and the other volunteers worried they would not be allowed home if they were associated with the PKK, which the United States and Europe consider a terrorist organization. They also said they disliked the group’s leftist ideology. The only foreign woman in Dwekh Nawsha's ranks said she had been inspired by the role of women in the YPG, but identified more closely with the "traditional" values of the Christian militia. Wearing a baseball cap over her balaclava, she said radical Islam was at the root of many conflicts and had to be contained. All the volunteers said they were prepared to stay in Iraq indefinitely. “Everyone dies,” said Brett, asked about the prospect of being killed. “One of my favorite verses in the Bible says: be faithful unto death, and I shall give you the crown of life.” (Editing by Stephen Kalin and Stephen Powell)
- The Daily Beast
Tennessee Department of CorrectionA woman who shared a kiss with a prisoner during a visitation in Tennessee has been charged with murder after the inmate died shortly after their exchange.Rachel Dollard was taken into custody over the weekend by special agents from the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) and the Dickson County Sheriff’s Department, the TDOC confirmed in a statement on Tuesday. She is accused of smuggling drugs into the Turney Center Industrial Complex.Dollard is facing ch
- The Daily Beast
Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / GettyAt the risk of awarding the title prematurely, we think we’ve found the weirdest study published in 2022. Scientists strapped GoPro cameras to the bodies of six dolphins trained by the U.S. Navy, and recorded them hunting for food and consuming their prey in grisly detail. According to the study, there was a purpose behind this potential invasion of dolphin privacy; namely, to learn more about how the mammals hunted and ate.Scientists
Anne Heche died from “smoke inhalation and thermal injuries,” according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner, People reported today. Her death was officially ruled an accident. The report cited a “sternal fracture due to blunt trauma” as another “significant condition” contributing to her passing. Heche sustained the injuries when her car jumped a curb […]
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