Middleeast

Christmas reborn for Iraqi Christians

By Pete Burn, CNN

Published 4:46 AM ET, Sat December 31, 2016
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Clergymen hold Mass on Christmas Eve for people who returned to Bartella, Iraq, after ISIS militants had been driven out of the town.
Former residents return to Bartella for an emotional Christmas Eve Mass. Mohammed Tawfeeq/CNN
US and Iraqi security forces were on hand to protect churchgoers after ISIS reportedly made threats to attack Bartella. Mohammed Tawfeeq/CNN
Father Behnam Lalo, left, and another clergyman pray during Christmas Mass held in Bartella. Mohammed Tawfeeq/CNN
A religious statue vandalized by ISIS stands outside Mart Shmony Church in Bartella. Mohammed Tawfeeq/CNN
About 300 Iraqi Christians traveled by bus, mostly from camps in the city of Irbil, to their hometown of Bartella. Mohammed Tawfeeq/CNN
ISIS attacked the Iraqi town of Bartella in 2014, burning and damaging the Mart Shmony Church. Mohammed Tawfeeq/CNN
A plastic tree outside the Mart Shmony Church marks the return of Christmas to battle-scarred Bartella.