Iraqis Celebrate Christmas Near Mosul After ISIS Pushed Out

Source: NBCNews
admin | 27 December 2016
Iraqis from Bartella and Qaraqosh celebrated Christmas for the first time since 2013 after the towns were freed from ISIS control.
Iraqis Celebrate Christmas Near Mosul After ISIS Pushed Out
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Photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images

A soldier stands watch on the rooftop as people arrive for the Christmas Day mass at Mar Hanna church in Qaraqosh on Dec. 25, 2016 in Mosul, Iraq.

The predominantly Christian towns of Bartella and Qaraqosh on the outskirts of Mosul were recently liberated from ISIS as part of the Mosul offensive. The towns were heavily damaged and churches burned and defaced while under militant control. Christian communities around Mosul celebrated Christmas Day as the Mosul offensive continues.

Photo: AHMED JALIL / EPA

Photo: AHMED JALIL / EPA

An Iraqi soldier lights candles during Christmas celebrations at the al-Tahira al-Kubra church in the formerly ISIS-held town of al-Hamdaniya, east of Mosul on Dec. 25. Hundreds of Iraqi Christians held prayers at a church in the recently recaptured town for the first time since 2014, with the attendance of the U.S.-led coalition officers and senior Iraqi officers.

Photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images

Photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images

A soldier from the U.S Army stands guard next to a defaced Christian statue during Christmas Day mass at Mar Hanna church in Qaraqosh on Dec. 25 in Mosul

Photo: Khalid al Mousily / Reuters

Photo: Khalid al Mousily / Reuters

Iraqi Christians attend a mass on Christmas at an Orthodox church in the town of Bashiqa, east of Mosul on Dec. 25.

Photo: Safin Hamed / AFP - Getty Images

Photo: Safin Hamed / AFP – Getty Images

U.S. soldiers attend a Christmas Eve service for Iraqi Christians at the Saint John’s church in the town of Qaraqosh, east of Mosul, on Dec. 25.

Photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images

Photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images

Priests lead a Christmas Day mass at Mar Hanna church in Qaraqosh on Dec. 25, in Mosul.

Photo: Khalid al Mousily / Reuters

Photo: Khalid al Mousily / Reuters

Iraqi Christians attend a mass on Christmas at an Orthodox church in the town of Bashiqa, east of Mosul on Dec. 25.

Photo: Safin Hamed / AFP - Getty Images

Photo: Safin Hamed / AFP – Getty Images

A U.S. soldier shakes hands with an Iraqi boy during a Christmas Eve service for Iraqi Christians at the Saint John’s church in the town of Qaraqosh, on Dec. 25.

Photo: Safin Hamed / AFP - Getty Images

Photo: Safin Hamed / AFP – Getty Images

Iraqi security forces clean the square of Saint John’s Church before a Christmas Eve service in the town of Qaraqosh on Dec. 25.

Photo: Cengiz Yar / AP

Photo: Cengiz Yar / AP

Iraqi forces guard the entrance to a Christmas Eve Mass at the Assyrian Orthodox church of Mart Shmoni, in Bartella, Iraq on Dec. 24.

For the 300 Christians who braved rain and wind to attend the mass in their hometown, the ceremony provided them with as much holiday cheer as grim reminders of the war still raging on around their northern Iraqi town and the distant prospect of moving back home. Displaced when the Islamic State seized their town in 2014, they were bused into the town from Irbil, capital of the self-ruled Kurdish region, where they have lived for more than two years.

Photo: Cengiz Yar / AP

Photo: Cengiz Yar / AP

Iraqis attend Christmas Eve Mass in the Assyrian Orthodox church of Mart Shmoni, in Bartella on Dec. 24.\

Photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images

Photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images

A Deacon walks amid rubble in a destroyed part of the church after taking part in the Christmas Mass at the Mar Shimoni Church on Dec. 24 in Bartella, Iraq.

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