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LOOK: First Palm Sunday in Iraq Christian town after ISIS

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LOOK: First Palm Sunday in Iraq Christian town after ISIS

/ 07:31 AM April 10, 2017
Crucifixes and icons are seen at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), some 30 kilometres east of Mosul, on April 9, 2017, as Christians mark the first Palm Sunday event in the town since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Crucifixes and icons are seen at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), some 30 kilometers east of Mosul, on April 9, 2017, as Christians mark the first Palm Sunday event in the town since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadists. Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq. AFP

QARAQOSH, Iraq — Members of Iraq’s Christian minority celebrated Palm Sunday in the country’s main Christian town of Qaraqosh for the first time since it was retaken from the Islamic State or ISIS group.

Hundreds of faithful gathered inside the town’s burnt out Immaculate Conception church for mass before starting the traditional Palm Sunday march, a procession during which palms are carried to commemorate Jesus’s entry to Jerusalem.

READ: First Palm Sunday since ISIS in Iraq’s main Christian town | Christians celebrate as Iraq forces enter town near Mosul

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“Thank God, we are returning to our towns and churches after two years,” Abu Naimat Anay, an Iraqi priest, said inside the church, which is Iraq’s biggest and where jihadist inscriptions were still visible on the walls.

Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq.

It was retaken by Iraqi forces late last year as part of a massive offensive to wrest back the nearby city of Mosul from ISIS but it remains almost completely deserted. CBB

Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), some 30 kilometres east of Mosul, visit the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017, as Christians celebrate the first Palm Sunday event in the town since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), some 30 kilometres east of Mosul, visit the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017, as Christians celebrate the first Palm Sunday event in the town since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadists. AFP

Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), some 30 kilometres east of Mosul, attend the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017, since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh attend the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017. AFP

Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), some 30 kilometres east of Mosul, attend the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017, since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh receive Holy Communion during the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017, since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadists. AFP

Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), some 30 kilometres east of Mosul, attend the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017, since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Iraqi Christians attend the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017, since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadists. AFP

Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), some 30 kilometres east of Mosul, attend the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017, since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Iraqi Christians of Qaraqosh prepare the altar for the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017.AFP

Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), some 30 kms east of Mosul, attend the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017, since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh attend the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017. AFP

A Syrian Catholic clergyman participates in the Palm Sunday procession followed by the Archbishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Mouche, as Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya) attend mass on April 9, 2017, some 30 kilometres east of Mosul. Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

A Syrian Catholic clergyman participates in the Palm Sunday procession followed by the Archbishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Mouche, as Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya) attend mass on April 9, 2017, some 30 kilometers east of Mosul. Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq. AFP

Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Yohanna Petros Mouche speaks during the Palm Sunday sermon for Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), some 30 kilometres east of Mosul on April 9, 2017 after it was retaken by Iraqi forces from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists.  Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Yohanna Petros Mouche speaks during the Palm Sunday sermon for Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), some 30 kilometres east of Mosul on April 9, 2017 after it was retaken by Iraqi forces from Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadists. AFP

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TAGS: Christians, Iraq, ISIS, Islam, Jihad, Muslim, news, Palm Sunday, Qaraqosh, religious persecution
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