Christmas celebrations include global call for peace by Pope Francis
Its Christmas and its Jesus’s birthday. Lucky few are those who celebrate their birthdays on Christmas Day🙂 Here’s wishing all my blogger buddies a Merry Christmas ♥️🎄
Call for Peace
Christmas Day celebrations included a call by Pope Francis for peace and an end to terrorism, as well as a traditional holiday meal for hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq who are fighting the Islamic State.
Pope Francis wished Christmas peace for people scarred by wars and for those who have lost loved ones to terrorism. He spoke at the Vatican before an estimated 40,000 people in St. Peter’s Square and to a global audience during his traditional Christmas Day address.
He noted the “most awful recent battles” in Aleppo, Syria, which government forces recalimed from rebels last week, and called for world leaders to find a negotiated solution to Syria’s civil war, which will soon enter its sixth year, according to Vatican Radio.
The pontiff also urged Israelis and Palestinians “to build together a future of mutual understanding and harmony.” The likelihood of that seemed dimmer than usual in the wake of a controversial United Nations Security Council vote on Friday that condemned Israeli settlements on disputed land that Palestinians want for a homeland. The Obama administration broke with traditional U.S. policy of blocking the vote with a veto and instead abstained, which allowed it to pass.
Wishing you all a heart full of love and a smile full of happiness
U.S. troops celebrating Christmas in Iraq again
This is the third Christmas that Staff Sergeant Magdiel Asencio is spending in Iraq. For Sergeant First Class Noel Alvarado, it is number four. And so it is with many U.S. troops stationed less than a hour’s drive from the front line with Islamic State.
Coalition advisors were initially concentrated at a high-level headquarters in Baghdad but have fanned out over the past two years to spartan outposts like the one about 15 kilometers (10 miles) east of Mosul to stay near advancing troops.
“Merry Christmas from the most forward TAA at the tip of the spear,”Lieutenant Colonel Stuart James said, using a military acronym for the compound.
The austere outpost nestled in an ancient Christian region has few permanent structures, since the troops plan to move on when the Iraqi forces they are advising advance.
Heavy rain turned much of the grounds into thick mud on Sunday as soldiers huddled inside two dining tents for a special holiday meal where a plastic Christmas tree and a Santa Claus figurine flanked one entrance.
Outside, a soldier in a Santa hat did pull-ups at a makeshift gym.
This is a far cry from the luxurious facilities at the sprawling compound the U.S. military once maintained inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone and other big bases.
Yet Alvarado is not too torn up about spending another Christmas away from home.
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