The Pope has arrived in Iraq for a historic weekend visit which carries both symbolism and risk. With a message of inter-faith tolerance, Francis will spend four days in Iraq in what is his first foreign trip in more than a year and the first-ever papal pilgrimage to the war-hit nation.
Francis, who wore a facemask during the flight, kept it on as he descended the stairs to the tarmac and was greeted by two masked children in traditional dress.
A red carpet was rolled out at Baghdad International Airport with prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on hand to greet the pontiff.
A largely unmasked choir sang songs as the Pope and Mr al-Kadhimi made their way to a welcome area in the airport.
The Pope will visit the capital city Baghdad, the holy city of Najaf in the south, the ancient birthplace of Abraham at Ur and Mosul in the north, which became the capital of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in 2014 until its defeat in 2017.
Iraqis have been keen to welcome him and the global attention, his visit will bring peace, with banners and posters hanging high in central Baghdad, and billboards depicting Francis with the slogan “We are all Brothers” decorating the main thoroughfare.