Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Pope Francis visits parts of Northern Iraq held by Islamic state

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Pope Francis is visiting parts of northern Iraq that were previously held by Islamic State militants.

It comes on the third day of his historic trip to the country.

Militants overran the region in 2014, destroying historic churches and looting.

Christians have been returning there since IS was defeated in 2017.

Later today, the Pope will celebrate Mass at a football stadium in Irbil, with up to 10,000 attendees expected.

There are fears the ritual could become a coronavirus super-spreader event.

The four-day trip, which began on Friday, is the pontiff’s first international excursion since the start of the pandemic more than a year ago, and the first ever papal visit to the country.

Some Shia militant groups have reportedly opposed the visit, saying the tour amounts to Western interference in the country’s affairs.