A group of Christians in Iraq has formed its own militia to defend themselves against the so-called Islamic State, says the BBC.

The Babylon Brigade of the Iraq Christian Resistance, headquartered in Baghdad, is the only Christian militia among about 30 Shia and Sunni Muslim outfits that have sprung up over the last few years. Between them they have around 100,000 armed volunteers.

The militias formed as Iraq’s national army collapsed in the face of Islamic State’s advance through north and west Iraq in 2014. They are funded by the Iraqi government – about $1.4bn a year.

For the leader of the Babylon Brigade, Rayan al-Kildani, that amounts to more than $600 per man per month. Kildani won’t say how many men he commands but admits they have rockets at their disposal.

He describes his outfit as “the first Christian power in Iraqi history”. Christians trace their history in Iraq back to the Old Testament prophet Jonah in the Nineveh Plains: some now want to create a “safe zone” for them there.