Tel Keppe

Tel Keppe (also spelled Tel Kaif) (Syriac: ܬܸܠ ܟܹܐܦܹܐTel Kepe, Arabic: تل كيفTall Kayf), is an Assyrian town in northern Iraq. Its name means "Hill of Stones" in Syriac. It is located in the Nineveh Governorate, less than 8 miles north east of Mosul.[2] The town is a historic farming town consisting of a densely populated core, surrounded by farm land outside the city.

Tel Keppe

ܬܸܠ ܟܹܐܦܹ̈ܐ
Tel Keppe is located in Iraq
Tel Keppe
Tel Keppe
Coordinates: 36°29′22″N 43°7′9″E / 36.48944°N 43.11917°ECoordinates: 36°29′22″N 43°7′9″E / 36.48944°N 43.11917°E
DistrictTel Kaif District
 • MayorBasim Bello
 • Total40,000
 Prior to ISIS, August 2014
Demonym(s)Tel-Kepniyah (m) / Tel-Kepnetha (f)


In 1508, Tel Keppe was sacked by Mongols.

In 1743, Tel Keppe was looted and burned by the armies of the Persian leader Nader Shah. This event took place within the context of the Siege of Mosul, in which the Persian army suffered heavy casualties and resorted to looting the surrounding towns to have some semblance of victory.

In 1833, the town was once again sacked, this time by the Kurdish Governor of Rawandiz. He also sacked the nearby town of Alqosh.[2]

Occupation by ISIL

On 6 August 2014, the town was taken over by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), along with nearby Assyrian towns Bakhdida, Bartella and Karamlish.[3] Upon entering the town, ISIS looted the homes, and removed the crosses and other religious objects from the churches. The Christian cemetery in the town was also later destroyed.[4]

Soon after the beginning of the Battle of Mosul Iraqi troops advanced on Tel Keppe, but the fighting continued into 2017.[5][6] Iraqi forces recaptured the town from ISIL on the 19th of January 2017.[7] By 2018 many of the Christian residents have now returned and rebuilt their churches.


Tel Keppe has a semi-arid climate (BSh) with extremely hot summers and cool, damp winters, typical to the Nineveh Plains.


In 1768, the town had a recorded population of 2500. Due to plague and other disasters, the population was around 1,500 in 1882, rising to 2,500 again by 1891. In 1923, the population was recorded as 14,000. In 1933, the population numbered around 10,000. As a result of emigration from the town to Baghdad and the United States, the population shrunk to 7,108 by 1968.

The district of Tel Keppe was approximately 50% Christian in the mid 1900s, the town of Tel Keppe remaining almost exclusively Christian with a population of 6,600 inhabitants.[9] Throughout the late 20th century, the town experienced non-native population growth from the arrival of Sunni Arabs, who established residence outside the historic city core. By the turn of the century, the population had swelled to close to 30,000.[10]

Tel Keppniyeh today

Starting in the 1980s and especially after the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Invasion of Iraq, many Chaldean Catholic Assyrians from Tel Keppe fled to many countries, but primarily the United States. They set up their lives there with new churches and business for their families.[2] By 2001 many from Tel Keppe had moved to major cities in Iraq such as Baghdad or Mosul.[11]

In the United States

Many of the Chaldean Catholic Assyrians in the Detroit metropolitan area trace their origins to Tel Keppe. According to the estimates of a priest of Tel Keppe's Sacred Heart Chaldean Rite Catholic Church, there were 10,000 worshippers in the late 1950s and this decreased to 2,000 around 2004. He said that "Many people don’t want to go from here; they cry that they have to go… But you almost have to leave these days because your family probably already is in Detroit."[12]

San Diego, CA is the second most populated area of Chaldean Catholic Assyrians from Iraq, typically Tel Keppe. The community was largely led by Fr. Michael Bazzi and built through his pastoral duties. As the generations grow, Detroit and San Diego have accumulated more Chaldean Catholic Assyrians than the native land of Iraq.


Tel Keppniyeh also fled to the neighboring countries of Syria and Iran. Many others also left to other countries including Sweden, America, France, other European countries and Australia.


Tel Keppe historically was the center of the Chaldean Catholic community of Iraq. Each family residing in Tel Keppe had one or more plots of farming land located outside Tel Keppe. The land produced barley and wheat, and animals raised there included goats and sheep. Natalie Jill Smith, author of "Ethnicity, Reciprocity, Reputation and Punishment: An Ethnoexperimental Study of Cooperation among the Chaldeans and Hmong of Detroit (Michigan)", wrote that in the reports of the village "everyone was related" and that marriage tended to occur between two people from the same village.[10]

Notable Tel-Kepniyeh


  • Maria Theresa Asmar, author and explorer, born in 1806. Published her memoir "Babylonian Princess" in English in 1844.
  • Tariq Aziz, born Mikhail Yuhanna (1936–2015 ) Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and a close advisor of President Saddam Hussein. He studied English at Baghdad University and later worked as a journalist, before joining the Ba'ath Party in 1957.
  • Emmanuel III Delly: Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans. (1927–2014)
  • Yusuf Malek, one of the leaders of the Assyrian movement in Iraq during the 1930s. Author of "The British Betrayal of the Assyrians".[13]
  • Chaldean Patriarch Joseph II Marouf (1667–1713).


  • Mar Ramzi Garmou: Archbishop of Tehran – Iran for the Chaldean Chaldean Church.
  • Mar Ibrahim Namo Ibrahim: Bishop Emeritus of the Chaldean Catholic Church for the Eastern United States.
  • Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo: Bishop Emeritus of the Chaldean Catholic Church for Western United States.
  • Mar Francis Y. Kalabat Bishop of the Chaldean Church for the Eastern United States.

See also


  1. ^ هل كانت تلكيف بلدة آشورية قديمة؟, فؤاد يوسف قزانجي
  2. ^ a b c Welcome to Tel Keppe at ChaldeansOnline
  3. ^ Barack Obama Approves Airstrikes on Iraq, Airdrops Aid
  4. ^ "Aiding the Assyrians Fight Against ISIS". The Huffington Post. 2015-04-15. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  5. ^ Alkhshali, Hamdi; Smith-Spark, Laura; Lister, Tim (22 October 2016). "ISIS kills hundreds in Mosul area, source says". CNN. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Iraqi residents flee Islamic State-held town of Tel Keyf". YouTube. Reuters. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  7. ^ Griffis, Margaret (19 January 2017). "Militants Execute Civilians in Mosul; 101 Killed Across Iraq". Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  8. ^ "Tel Kaif, Ninawa Monthly Climate Average, Iraq". World Weather Online. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  9. ^ Khadduri, Majid (1956). Area Handbook on Iraq – Volume 58 of Human Relations Area Files. Johns Hopkins University. p. 76. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  10. ^ a b Smith, Natalie Jill. "Ethnicity, Reciprocity, Reputation and Punishment: An Ethnoexperimental Study of Cooperation among the Chaldeans and Hmong of Detroit (Michigan)" (PhD dissertation). University of California, Los Angeles, 2001. p. 61. UMI Number: 3024065.
  11. ^ Smith, Natalie Jill. "Ethnicity, Reciprocity, Reputation and Punishment: An Ethnoexperimental Study of Cooperation among the Chaldeans and Hmong of Detroit (Michigan)" (PhD dissertation). University of California, Los Angeles, 2001. p. 62. UMI Number: 3024065.
  12. ^ "Arab, Chaldean, and Middle Eastern Children and Families in the Tri-County Area." (Archive) From a Child's Perspective: Detroit Metropolitan Census 2000 Fact Sheets Series. Wayne State University. Volume 4, Issue 2, February 2004. p. 2/32. Retrieved on November 8, 2013. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 26, 2010. Retrieved 2013-11-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^
Al-Shatrah District

Al-Shatra District is a district of the Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq.

Ali Al-Gharbi District

Ali Al-Gharbi is a district of the Maysan Governorate, Iraq.


Alqōsh (Syriac: ܐܲܠܩܘܫ‎, Judeo-Aramaic: אלקוש, Arabic: ألقوش‎), alternatively spelled Alkosh, Al-qosh or Alqush, is an Assyrian town in northern Iraq and is within Nineveh Plains. It is a sub-district of the Tel Kaif District and is 45km north of Mosul. The town is controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Peshmerga. In 2014 the mayor of Aqlosh, Faiz Jahwareh, was illegally detained and replaced by KDP member Lara Zara, only to be reinstated after protests by Alqosh residents. Mr Jahwareh was again detained and replaced by the KRG in July 2017 on the basis of false corruption charges that were dismissed by the Iraqi Federal Court. Basim Bello, mayor of nearby Tel Keppe, was also unlawfully removed by the same parties in August 2017, and reinstated by order of the Governor of Nineveh in August 2018.

Baiji District

Baiji District is a district of Saladin Governorate, Iraq.

Basim Bello

Basim Bello is, as of February 2015, the mayor of Tel Keppe, Iraq An adherent of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Bello was a member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, until he split from the party in 2014.


Batnaya or Batnai (Syriac: ܒܛܢܝܐ‎) is an Assyrian town in northern Iraq, within the Assyrian homeland, located 14 miles north of Mosul and about 3 miles north of Tel Keppe. Prior to the emergence of ISIL the town had a population of 6,000 people, after the town was liberated it remains partially populated with 800 inhabitants as of November 2018.

Daquq District

Daquq District (Arabic: قضاء داقوق‎, romanized: qaḍāʾ Daquq) is a district in eastern Kirkuk Governorate, northern Iraq. Administrative center is the city of Daquq.

Emmanuel III Delly

Mar Emmanuel III Delly (Syriac: ܡܪܝ ܥܡܢܘܐܝܠ ܬܠܝܬܝܐ ܕܠܝ‎, Arabic: مار عمانوئيل الثالث دلّي‎) (27 September 1927 – 8 April 2014) was the Patriarch Emeritus of Babylon of the Chaldeans and former Primate of the Chaldean Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic sui juris particular church of the Catholic Church, and also a Cardinal. An ethnic Chaldean, he was born in Tel Keppe and was ordained a priest on 21 December 1952. He was consecrated a bishop ten years later in December 1962 at the age of 35. He was elected Patriarch of the Chaldean Church on 3 December 2003, succeeding the late Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid. He was created a Cardinal Bishop on 24 November 2007.

George Garmo

Mar George Garmo (8 December 1921 – 9 September 1999) was the Archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Archeparchy of Mosul (Mausiliensis Chaldaeorum) in Iraq from 14 September 1980 until his death on 9 September 1999.

Hanna Zora

Hanna Zora (15 March 1939, Batnaia, Tel Keppe, Iraq – 2 October 2016) was a Chaldean Catholic archbishop. He died in Tbilisi.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1962, Zora served as archbishop of Ahvaz of the Chaldeans, Iran, from 1974 to 2011. From then on, he served as archbishop of Mar Addai of Toronto of the Chaldeans from 2011-14.

Ibrahim Namo Ibrahim

Ibrahim Namo Ibrahim (born October 1, 1937) is a bishop of the Catholic Church in the United States. He served as the Apostolic Exarch of United States of America from 1982 to 1985, and then, following its elevation, as the first eparch (bishop) of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Detroit, from 1985 until his retirement in 2014. Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat was named to succeed him as Eparch.

Jibrail Kassab

Jibrail Kassab (born 5 August 1938) is a bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church who presides over the Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Sydney in Australia. He has been the bishop of this diocese since its inception on 21 October 2006. His bishopric is currently based at St Thomas the Apostle Chaldean Catholic Church, Bossley Park, New South Wales. Kassab was born in Tel Keppe, Iraq, to a Chaldean family. He was ordained a priest on 19 January 1961. Following 35 years of service in the priesthood, he was elevated to the episcopate by the then Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Mar Raphael I Bidawid. Upon his installation, his first post was to serve as archbishop of the Archeparchy of Basra. Following the difficult plight of Iraq's Chaldean Christians during the Iraq War, Pope Benedict XVI transferred Kassab to a safer area and created a diocese in Sydney that would cover all of Australia and New Zealand. He installed Kassab as its head prelate, a post he still holds today.

Kut District

Kut District (Arabic: قضاء الكوت‎, romanized: Kaza Al-Kut)is a district of the Wasit Governorate, Iraq. Its seat is the city of Kut.

List of Assyrian settlements

The following is a list of Assyrian settlements in the Middle East subsequent to the Assyrian genocide in 1914. This list includes settlement of Assyrians from Southeastern Turkey who left their ancient tribes in Hakkari (or the historical Hakkari region), Sirnak and Mardin province due to torment, violence and displacement by the Ottomans in the First World War. Many Assyrians from Urmia, Iran were also affected and as such have emigrated and settled in other towns. Resettling again occurred during the Simele massacre in northern Iraq, perpetrated by the Iraqi military coup in the 1930s, with many fleeing to northeastern Syria.Most modern resettlement is located in Iraq, Syria and Iran in the cities of Baghdad, Habbaniyah, Kirkuk, Duhok, Al-Hasakah, Tehran and Damascus. Few Assyrian settlements exist in Turkey today and also in the Caucasus. The exodus to the cities or towns of these aforementioned countries occurred between late 1910s and 1930s. After the Iraq War in 2003, a number of Assyrians in Baghdad relocated to Northern Iraq, repopulating parts of Iraqi Kurdistan, in what they now call the "Assyrian homeland". Many others have immigrated to North America, Europe and Australia, especially in the late 20th century and 21st century. Currently, there are a number of settlements on this list that have been abandoned due to persecution, conflict, and other causes.

Maria Theresa Asmar

Maria Theresa Asmar (1804 – before 1870) was an ethnic Chaldean from Tel Keppe, Ottoman Empire, who wrote Memoirs of a Babylonian Princess, which consists of two volumes and 720 pages. This book was written in the early 19th century, describing her travels through Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine and the harem system used in Turkey. It was translated into English in 1844. Maria Theresa Asmar died in France before the Franco-Prussian War, and was known as Babylon's Princess in Europe.

Facing tremendous obstacles, Asmar, an Chaldean Christian woman, set up a school for women in Baghdad and welcomed with open arms western Christian missionaries, who then bribed the Turkish government to give them the licence for the school and forbid Maria to carry on with her project. Left frustrated and angry to have been treated this way by fellow Christians, she sought sanctuary with the Arab Bedouins. She set about recording their daily lives, everything from the weddings and celebrations to their assaults on other tribes. She explains in great detail Bedouin life.

Tel Afar District

Tel Afar District (Turkish: Telafer) is a district in Nineveh Governorate, Iraq. Its administrative center is the city of Tal Afar. Other towns include Rabia, Zummar, and al-Ayadia. It has a mixed population of Iraqi Turkmens and Arabs.

Tel Kaif District

Tel Kaif District (also Tel Keyf, Tel Kayf, Tel Kef or Tel Keppe (Classical Syriac: ܬܠ ܟܐܦܐ‎), (Arabic: تل كيف‎)), Aramaic for "Stony Hill", is a district in Nineveh Governorate, Iraq. It is majority Assyrian/Chaldean and Yazidi with a minority of Arabs.

Towns and villages include:

Tel Keppe













Tooz District

Tooz District is a district in the north-eastern part of Saladin Governorate, Iraq. Its main settlement is the city of Tuz Khurmatu. Other towns include Sulaiman Bek, Yankjah, and Amirli.

Climate data for Tel Keppe
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 12
Average low °C (°F) 2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 39
Average precipitation days 10 10 11 9 0 0 0 0 0 5 8 12 65
Source: World Weather Online (2000–2012)[8]
By country
Main settlements
Religious sites
Archaeological sites
See also
Districts of Iraq and their capitals
al-Anbar Governorate
Babil Governorate
Baghdad Governorate
Basra Governorate
Dhi Qar Governorate
Diyala Governorate
Dohuk Governorate
Erbil Governorate
Halabja Governorate
Karbala Governorate
Kirkuk Governorate
Maysan Governorate
Muthanna Governorate
Najaf Governorate
Nineveh Governorate
al-Qādisiyyah Governorate
Saladin Governorate
Sulaymaniyah Governorate
Wasit Governorate


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