The various Hashd formations in Ninawa (Nineveh) province that have regiment numbers are often called the 'tribal Hashd' in reference to Sunni tribes in the province. However, the Hashd formations with regiment numbers in Ninawa province are not exclusively Sunni Arab. The Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU), which operates in the Ninawa plain area near the city of Mosul, is a Christian formation. On 21 October 2020, I conducted an interview with the NPU regarding its history and current role in maintaining security. It is slightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Q: When was the NPU formed and in which area?
A: The NPU was formed at the end of 2015 from the people displaced form the Ninawa Plain areas that were occupied by the terrorist Da'esh organisation on 7 August 2014. The youth volunteered in the units in order to participate in liberating their areas and return to them and hold the ground in them.
Q: In which battles has the NPU participated?
A: The NPU participated in March 2016 in the battle to liberate the village of Badna and the battle of Telsukf in the Ninawa plain and after that it participated with the Iraqi army in the beginning of the operations for the liberation of Ninawa and it participated in the battles in the Ninawa plain and in particular in Bakhdida and Karamilis and Bartella. After the liberation it received and maintains until now the responsibility in preserving the security and holding the ground in these areas.
Q: What are the responsibilities of the NPU currently and in which villages does it operate?
A: The main responsibility is holding the land in the areas of the Ninawa plain and ensuring security and helping the displaced people to return to their areas. And the NPU has undertaken its responsibility in a complete sense and has won the trust of the citizens who have returned to their areas as the fighters are of the sons of the area and know the affairs in it well, which has enabled them to undertake their assignment and succeed in it.
Q: How do you assess the security situation and services and humanitarian situation in the area of your responsibility?
A: The security situation is very good and since 2017 as the area has been liberated and till now no security violation has been registered in the areas of responsibility of the NPU. And this shows the complete dedication in bearing responsibility and the cooperation of the citizens with the NPU and the local police.
Q: Do you have a regiment number within the Hashd Sha'abi Commission?
A: The numbers of the two regiments of the NPU are 13 and 74 within the Hashd Commission.
Q: How can we support your efforts in preserving security in the area of your responsibility? And do you have a message for the Iraqi government and the world?
A: It is very important for the government to deduce a very important matter: namely, the trust of the displaced citizens- who have returned to their areas after years of displacement and living in the camps- in the security forces that have been formed from the sons of these areas like the NPU. And that assures the success of the concept of local security that arises upon the basis of regular forces affiliated with the state formed from the sons of these areas and holding the land in them and managing the security portfolio. And this matter has succeeded in restoring the displaced people to their areas. And we consider that the obligation of the government is to support these forces and to push the sons of the areas of the minorities to join them for they help from an aspect in restoring trust in the security forces. And likewise they are a work opportunity for the sons of the displaced areas in order to remain in them and not abandon them and migrate from them.