(AINA) -- Two billion Christians celebrated Christmas yesterday and today around the world. It is a joyous time for all, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and his message of love and charity, but for some the times have not been well, as many Christians around the world face persecution and genocide. The service at St Paul's church in Mosul was the first Christmas service in years. ( EPA) Related: Timeline of ISIS in Iraq Related: Attacks on Assyrians in Syria By ISIS and Other Muslim Groups
For the Assyrians of Iraq and Syria the last three years have been catastrophic, as they have faced genocide at the hands of ISIS and have been driven from their homes. In 2004 the Assyrian population of Iraq was 1.5 million, now it has decreased to 400,000. Most have fled the country for Europe, Australia and America. The same is true for the Assyrian population in Syria.
Despite this, Assyrians in Iraq and Syria celebrated Christmas with joy and relief.
Assyrian attend Christmas mass in north Iraq ( Rudaw) Assyrian attend Christmas mass in north Iraq ( Rudaw) Assyrian girls, who are members of the choir, receive holy communion during a mass over Christmas at the Virgin Mary Syriac Orthodox Church in Diyarbakir, Turkey. ( Reuters/Sertac Kayar) An Iraqi Assyrian priest carries a cross during Christmas mass at St. George Chaldean Church in Baghdad, Iraq. ( Reuters/Khalid al Mousily) Christmas overlooking Prophet Jonah's Hill in East Mosul, Iraq. ( Martin Banni) Pope Francis kisses a statue of baby Jesus during the traditional midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Eve at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. ( Reuters/Tony Gentile) Girls wearing Santa Claus hats take a selfie inside a church during the Christmas celebrations in New Delhi, India. ( Reuters/Saumya Khandelwal) A Christian priest performs prayer at a church during Christmas celebrations in Chandigarh, India. ( Reuters/Ajay Verma) A policeman stands guard on the roof of a church during the Christmas celebrations in New Delhi, India. ( Reuters/Adnan Abidi) Boys wearing Santa Claus costumes during a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Nazareth, the town of Jesus' boyhood. ( Reuters/Ammar Awad) A man decorates a 64-meter-long cake during Christmas celebrations at a consumer fair in Chandigarh, India. ( Reuters/Ajay Verma) Belarusian children perform before a mass over Christmas in a Catholic church in the town of Dyatlovo, Belarus. ( Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko) On Christmas Eve, U.S. President Donald Trump revealed his Christmas wish list: "We've got prosperity; now we want peace." ( Reuters) A man dressed as Santa Claus waves as the convoy of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa passes through an Israeli checkpoint to attend Christmas celebrations, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. ( Reuters/Mussa Qawasma) Members of the U.S. Army play guitars during Christmas Eve celebrations at a U.S. airbase in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. ( Reuters/Mohammad Ismail) A man dressed in a Santa Claus outfit waves from a fisherman's boat on Christmas Eve along the coast of Valparaiso, Chile. ( Reuters/Rodrigo Garrido) People attend a mass on Christmas Day at the Cathedral Church in Lahore, Pakistan. ( Reuters/Mohsin Raza) A woman holds a candle as she attends a mass over Christmas at St. Alexander Nevski cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria. ( Reuters/Stoyan Nenov) Effort Baptist Church's choir sings during the Christmas vigil in Monrovia, Liberia. ( Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon)