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Cross-border aid group Free Burma Rangers (FBR) recently undertook a front-line mission to Iraq, where its team embedded with Kurdish forces in the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State militants, or ISIS, west of Mosul.
FBR is no stranger to war zones. Since 1997, it has trained and equipped medics and relief teams to venture into the conflict areas of eastern Burma.
In May, a team visited Kurdistan, led by former US Special Forces’ Green Beret and Christian missionary Dave Eubank. As well as an American dentist, the team included two ethnic Karen medics and a Karenni cameraman, who captured stunning video footage of both military and humanitarian operations in Sinjar, northwestern Iraq, close to the Syrian border and an area rife with conflict as battle-hardened Kurds attempt to repel ISIS troops.
The 9-minute video clip shows rare first-hand footage from the front lines where Eubank and his team spent several weeks alongside Kurdish fighters and families, providing medical treatment, first aid training, spiritual support and, occasionally, fighting alongside Kurdish troops against ISIS.
The FBR video, titled Evil at Our Doorstep, opens with a clip of Eubank speaking to the camera:
“So, we’re up here at Sinjar town now … big firefight going on,” he says as rockets and bombs can be heard exploding all around. “And we’ll go out there.”
With that, he closes his eyes, offers a quick prayer, calls, “All right, Let’s go guys!” and disappears out of the tent into the night where tracers and artillery fire light up the sky.
With regard to the humanitarian mission, which has been sponsored by various church groups, an FBR volunteer in Iraq, who goes by the moniker “Monkey”, said, “We are teaching them [Kurdish families and fighters] the skills we have used in the struggle against oppression in our country, Burma.”
Speaking to DVB on Sunday, Eubank said that FBR intends sending another mission to the Sinjar area.
In response to a question about his and FBR’s involvement in armed fighting against ISIS, he said, “We stand with those under attack. Our main job is not to fight, but to give love and humanitarian help. But we do not run away when attacks come. We stay with those under attack and face it.”