Iraqi Christians celebrate Christmas one year after ISIS defeat

In Baghdad, Christians celebrated mass on Tuesday morning — declared a national holiday by government — in churches decorated for Christmas. Once fearful, they said they were now hopeful, since conditions had improved.

“Of course we can say the security situation is better than in previous years,” said Father Basilius, leader of the St George Chaldean Church in Baghdad where more than a hundred congregants attended Christmas mass.

“We enjoy security and stability mainly in Baghdad. In addition, Daesh was beaten,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

Iraq declared victory over the militants more than a year ago, but the damage done to Christian enclaves on the Nineveh Plains has been extensive.