Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul are openly celebrating their first Christmas in four years following the liberation of their city from the clutches of ISIS, AFP has reported. Mass opened with the singing of the Iraqi national anthem as worshipers filed in, while armored cars and police watched outside to protect the safety of worshipers from any remaining extremists in the city.

When ISIS invaded, they prohibited public Christian worship services and began systematically destroying Christian churches. Almost all of Mosul’s Christian population was either killed or fled the city to escape ISIS’ purges.

However, Iraqi security forces mounted a bloody and ultimately successful campaign to retake the city which ended in July of this year. Some estimates place the number of civilian casualties at over 10,000 during the battle (RELATED: Battle Against ISIS FAR DEADLIER Than Initially Thought).

AFP estimates that since the battle ended, around 70 or 80 Christian families have returned to Mosul, and more are expected to do so in the coming weeks and months if Iraqi security forces are able to successfully demonstrate that they can protect the city from being retaken by ISIS or other extremist groups.

Read more at American Action News.

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