Iraq's Chaldean Patriarch has issued a statement condemning the use of crosses, effigies of Jesus and other Christian symbols by militia groups attacking civilians fleeing territories of the so-called Islamic State in the conflict around the city of Fallujah.

Fides news agency reports that Patriarch Raphael Louis I Sako reiterated previous comments that the perpetrators cannot claim any relationship with Christianity .

"These are individuals who act in a bad way: displaying Christian symbols is evil, and foments clashes related to religion, spirals of revenge and more suffering," he said in a statement.

It has been suggested that the paramilitary groups, which include individuals of various faiths, may use the symbols to demonstrate that they have the support of all religious groups.

The Chaldean Patriarchate has previously emphasised its distance from armed groups which seek to claim affiliation to local Christian communities.

Patriarch Sako has repeatedly suggested Christians who want to participate in the liberation of the cities occupied by the Islamic State join the national armed forces or the Peshmerga militias. Last month he urged the US not to arm 'Christian' forces fighting IS.

- with Fides