Clashes between Kurds and Iraqi army force Christians to flee from homes they just resettled

  • Written by:

Jardine Malado
(Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah)Kurdish security men inspect people during Kurds independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq.
Christian families were reportedly forced to evacuate from their homes in the village of Teleskof, Iraq on Tuesday after the Iraqi army stormed the area to confront Kurdish soldiers.

Teleskof, located in the Nineveh Plains, was the first city where a significant number of Christians had returned after it was liberated from the Islamic State terror group, according to Washington Free Beacon.

Roughly 2,000 Assyrian-Chaldean Christian families have reportedly fled from the village in the last 24 hours after fighting broke out between Peshmerga forces from neighboring Kurdistan and the forces from the Iraqi central government.

People who have recently returned to their homes were told to leave the village before the standoff between Kurdish and Iraqi forces reaches a boiling point.

“An emissary from the Iraqi government told the people of the village that they had until sunrise to evacuate,” an anonymous source told Fox News.

“They were told that the Iraqi army and the Shiite militia have said they will forcibly evict the Peshmerga in the morning,” the source continued.

The town has been considered as the model for rehabilitating minority community towns and villages across the region earlier this year.

The Hungarian government had provided $2 million in aid to help families return to the village. The donation has been hailed by Catholic organizations and human rights activists as a model for U.S.-government foreign aid assistance.

Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army began fighting on Oct. 16 following a referendum where the Kurdish people voted overwhelmingly in favor of seeking full independence from the central government in Baghdad.

On Tuesday, Officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) released a statement acknowledging the firefight in Teleskof and urging the Iraqi forces to stop the skirmish and recognize their recent referendum vote.

“Attacks and confrontations between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces that started on October 16, 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,” the statement read.

“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,” it added.

The KRG called on the Iraqi central government to issue an immediate ceasefire, halt all military operations in Kurdistan, and freeze the results of the referendum.

A source in touch with people in the town said that local Christians have requested help from U.S. forces in the region to stop the violent confrontation.

Other sources have noted that some clergy as well as other men, who are being led by Fr. Salar Kajo of the Chaldean Catholic Church, have refused to leave the village.