The Syriac Catholic patriarch said he was horrified to see widespread devastation and what he called “ghost towns” during a recent visit to northern Iraq.

Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan wrote in an email to Catholic News Service that there was little left in some of the communities that he toured from November 27-29 and that “the emptiness of the streets except for military people … the devastation and burned-out houses and churches” was shocking.

About 100,000 Christians — among them more than 60,000 Syriac Catholics — were expelled from the Ninevah Plain by ISIS in the summer of 2014 as the militants campaigned to expand their reach into Iraq.

Patriarch Younan also called for understanding from the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump about the plight and ordeal of all minorities, including Christians affected by violence in the region.

The patriarch told CNS about “walking through the Christian towns of Qaraqosh, Bartella and Karamles and witnessing the extent of devastation as if we had entered ghost towns.”

Graffiti and inscriptions “expressing hatred toward Christian symbols and doctrine were seen everywhere” on walls near streets, outside and inside houses and churches, he wrote.

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