ACN News: Thursday, 26thth October 2017 – IRAQ
Army shells Iraqi town – but priest refuses to leave
A SENIOR Iraqi priest refused to leave Teleskov, northern Iraq – even after military forces gathered there for battle. Chaldean cleric Father Salar Kajo and nine Church workers remained in the Christian-majority town on the Nineveh Plains, around 19 miles north of Mosul, despite Iraqi and Peshmerga armies amassing there over the last 48 hours. All other inhabitants left Teleskov on Tuesday 24th October after mortar shells landed in the town, injuring three children. Both Kurdish and Iraqi forces are aware of the presence of Father Kajo and his team.
The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need has received information from various sources including Father Kajo and town elders who have fled to nearby Alqosh. According to sources, last night was mostly quiet and the sporadic gun fire which occurred earlier this morning has now ceased.
(Fr Salar Kajo © Aid to the Church in Need)
Iraqi forces had moved in heavy weaponry, including armoured vehicles, up to the outskirts of Teleskov, and the Peshmerga had set up defensive positions inside numerous houses. Kurdish forces from Alqosh had been moved towards the town. With most other Peshmerga militias having reportedly stood down, local Church leaders have questioned why Kurdish forces apparently made a stand at Teleskov, where the majority of the homes damaged during Daesh (ISIS) occupation have been restored. More than 70 percent of the families that were driven out by Daesh had returned to the town.
But there are signs that further fighting could be averted following a statement issued by the Kurdistan Regional Government on Wednesday 25th October. The message called for an immediate ceasefire and halt to all military operations in the region, and promised to “[f]reeze the results of referendum conducted in the Iraqi Kurdistan” so that there could be dialogue between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraqi Federal Government.
The statement said: “As Iraq and Kurdistan are faced with grave and dangerous circumstances, we are all obliged to act responsibly in order to prevent further violence and clashes between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces. Attacks and confrontations between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces that started on October 16th, 2017, especially today’s clashes, have caused damage to both sides and could lead to a continuous bloodshed, inflicting pain and social unrest among different components of Iraqi society. Certainly, continued fighting does not lead any side to victory, but it will drive the country towards disarray and chaos, affecting all aspects of life.”
Aid to the Church in Need has been working with local churches to rebuild Christian towns and villages which were destroyed by extremist group Daesh after they seized the Nineveh Plains. The charity as called for prayers for peace in the Nineveh Plains.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 172 languages and 50 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
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