The Daily Beast reports: Christians whose roots go back many centuries in Iraq are risking everything today, braving snipers and mortar fire, to bring their dead back from asylum abroad and bury them in villages previously abandoned to the jihadis of the so-called Islamic State.
Many of those making these hasty pilgrimages fear that otherwise the age of Christians in Mesopotamia is coming to an end. Their dead, they say, may be their only lasting legacy.
On the morning of June 26, a white pickup speeds out of a church in the Kurdish-controlled Assyrian Catholic town of Alqush. Its cargo is a simple wooden coffin holding the body of Tawetha Batrus Ngara. She was in her 70s, and had moved to Lebanon with her adult son four months ago. But today she is to be buried in her birthplace: the Iraqi Christian ghost town of Telaskof, 25 miles north of the ISIS stronghold Mosul.
ISIS overran Telaskof on August 6, 2014. It was retaken by Kurdish Peshmerga shortly after, but its 7,000 or so residents have yet to return for fear of future attacks. ISIS assaults on the town are still frequent. As craters in its streets can attest, Telaskof is still within rocket and mortar range of militant positions on the Nineveh Plain to the south. [Continue reading…]