International Christian Concern | Dec. 3, 2018
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on the morning of December 1, Shabak militia forces aggressively blocked access to St. George Assyrian Church in Bartella, Iraq and threatened its priest, Father Behnam Benoka. The Shabak militia maintains close ties to Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi militia, which is accused of multiple human rights violations.
The Shabaks are a local ethnic minority also targeted by ISIS and whose militia participated in the liberation of the Nineveh Plains. The incident in Bartella occurred when a Shabak wedding party stopped at a photography studio near St. George. The Shabak militia forces were participating in the wedding party and decided to park their vehicles in front of the church. For the next 30 minutes, members of the militia shot automatic weapons into the area. When Father Benoka approached the militia and asked that they cease shooting, the militia aggressively threatened him.