Iraqi Christians Confront Painful Memories in Town’s Clean-Up

TOPSHOT - David Dosha, the priest of the Church of Mart Shmony, located in the Christian Iraqi town of Bartella, about 15 kilometres (10 miles) east of Mosul, inspects the damage on October 24, 2016 at the church's compound after Iraqi forces retook control of the town from jihadists of …

QARAQOSH, Iraq (Reuters) – For decades, the Immaculate Conception Church in Qaraqosh was the heart of Iraq’s largest Christian town. After two years under Islamic State rule, it lies scarred and desecrated.

In the church’s inner courtyard, Islamic State fighters set up a shooting range for target practice, leaving behind bullet-riddled female mannequins and hardboard figures when they were driven out.

The yard’s arches and walls are cratered. At one end, empty shell casings carpet its flagstones near piles of trash and sheets of hymn music; a wooden pulpit for sermons sits pockmarked and cracked by bullets at the other, now with a small pink “Hallelujah” flag posted on top.

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