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Iraqi Christians fear returning home, wary of Shia militia

BARTELLA: Only a fragment of Christian citizens has returned to the northern Iraqi town of Bartella, two years since it was once liberated from Islamic State militants.

Many worry intimidation by town's inhabitants of Shabak, a Shiite Muslim ethnic group that dominates the militias now running Bartella. The tensions are an indication of the sectarian splits round northern Iraq in the wake of the defeat of the Islamic State group.

The massive go in Bartella's major sq. is considered one of few overt indicators this town was once traditionally Christian.

Nearby, an enormous billboard presentations Shiite Muslim martyrs along a photograph of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini. Posters of Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen killed in combating with the Islamic State group hang on streets all around the town, along with banners to respected ancient Shiite saints

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