(JNS.org) The small Iraqi Christian village of Telskuf, located in Iraq’s contested Nineveh Province, on Sunday held its first mass since last summer’s invasion of the village by Islamic State jihadists.
“We celebrated the Eucharist this Sunday in one of Nineveh province’s villages—the first time since the locals were forced out last August by ISIS jihadists,” Father Paulus Thabit Makku, a Chaldean Catholic priest from Mosul, told Fides News.
Telskuf, located about 19 miles north of Mosul, is a predominately Assyrian Christian village with about 11,000 residents. In early August, Islamic State jihadists seized the village. While the Kurdish Peshmerga forces retook the village about a week later, it has remained abandoned due to nearby fighting.
According to reports, the mass was celebrated in Telskuf’s Saint Georges Chaldean church by refugees from the town who returned briefly to ring the church’s bell and to hold a brief mass before returning back to Iraqi Kurdistan.
Most of the town’s former residents still speak Aramaic, the ancient language of the Assyrian people, and the village is home to several ancient churches and monasteries.