How Americans, Kurds and Assyrians Fought Off ISIS
By Robert Ewan
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A Christian militiaman passes a tableau of The Last Supper inside St. George's Church on November 4, 2015 in Telsquf, near the frontline with ISIS in northern Iraq. All of the town's 11,000 predominantly Chaldean Catholic residents fled when it was overrun by the Islamic State in 2014 before being retaken by Peshmerga forces with the aid of American airstrikes. Of the 1,800 families that fled, some 40 percent left Iraq, according to Safaa Khamro, commander of the Nineveh Plain Forces (NPF), Christian militia. Many, he said, have now immigrated to Europe.
(AINA) -- On May 3, in one of the biggest offensives by ISIS in months, ISIS fighters broke through Kurdish and Assyrian (Nineveh Plain Protection Units, NPU) defenses in the deserted Assyrian village of Telsquf, 17 miles from the militant stronghold of Mosul.

The attack started at 5.30 A.M. when ISIS blasted through Kurdish and NPU defenses by using three truck bombs, followed by bulldozers, and infantry. The village defenses were breached and ISIS fighters stormed into the village. They were backed by snipers and heavy machine gun and mortar fire. Once in the town, they set several buildings on fire to create a smoke screen against allied bombing. They managed to overrun the town by dawn and reached the Kurdish encampment two miles behind the front line. But they were unaware that U.S. military advisers were in the camp. A fire fight started between the attackers and the defenders. A Navy Seal, Charles Keating IV, was part of the force sent in to rescue the advisers. The highly decorated seal was killed in the ensuing battle.

Related: Timeline of ISIS in Iraq

In a press conference at the American embassy in Baghdad, Coalition spokesman Col. Steve Warren said: "The Quick Reaction Force, of which Keating was a part, was able to evacuate the advisers relatively rapidly within the first couple of hours." But it was during this operation, he noted, that Keating was struck by direct fire at 9:32 AM local time. He added: "Two medical evacuation helicopters were able to evacuate Keating within an hour of him being hit, but his wound was not survivable."

When Peshmergae reinforcements and NPU fighters arrived, they were met by sniper fire from ISIS fighters hiding in buildings. Intense house to house fighting continued. The air cracked with machine gun fire and mortars. American fighter jets and drones launched over 22 strikes on ISIS positions. The air attacks destroyed 20 vehicles and killed 58 fighters. Three Assyrians were injured, Fouad Georgis, Wahab Khalid and Rafid Matei.

The fight to recapture the village was successful, but the cost was high and the village lay in ruins.

ISIS confirmed that the 'Farook Army' spearheaded the attack. This was considered one of the elite units of ISIS. It is composed of highly trained foreign fighters, mainly from Chechnya and Russia. A reliable security source confirmed to the Iraqi newspaper 'Al Sabbah Al-Jadeed' that by listening to the conversation of some ISIS elements, they seemed distraught at loosing so many men and so much equipment in a single engagement. This unit was originally assigned to defend Mosul.

In his comments to, NPU leader Athra Kado said: "after we recaptured the town ISIS fighters tried to escape from the western edges of the town, but they were met with our fighters who managed to kill three of them. Peshmerga forces managed to kill four attackers and two suicide bombers blew themselves up. Three prisoners were also taken."

In the summer of 2014, Telsquf residents fled their village when ISIS swept through the region. In late 2014, ISIS withdrew from the village, which ended up under Kurdish Peshmerga control.

The chiming and chanting of bells that once sounded in the village have been silenced. The smell of death has spread into every corner of Telsquf.

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