Self-defense is an absolute, said Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I, but only "the forces of the State should take charge of this defense," who also said that militias created along ethnic or religious lines "can destroy Iraq." The patriarch said this in statements during his visit to Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region ruled by Kurds in northern Iraq. He was a member of a delegation of the Patriarchs of the various Eastern Churches who were on a pastoral visit to the region. It was there that they were able to meet refugees from Mosul and elsewhere in Iraq who had been subjected to murder, rape, and dispossession at the hands of the Islamic Caliphate.
On August 18, Kurdish President Masud Barzani said he was willing to provide weapons to Christian volunteers to form self-defense militias with a mandate to defend their villages currently in the hands of the Caliphate. During his August 20 visit, the Chaldean Patriarch expressed that it is "acceptable" that an autonomous region for Christians be established on the Plain of Ninevah. However, he cautioned that should come about only "through dialogue and not through conflict".
Among the other members of the delegation that visited Erbil on August 20 were the Maronite Bechara Boutros Rai, the Greek-Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III, the Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III and Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II.