Pope Francis landed in northern Iraq on Sunday to cap his historic tour to the country with a visit to Christian communities that endured the brutality of a jihadist “caliphate”.

The heaviest deployment of security forces yet has been mobilised to protect the 84-year-old on what is perhaps his riskiest day in Iraq.

Francis landed early on Sunday at the airport in the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil, targeted just a few weeks ago by a volley of rockets that killed two people.

He held a brief meeting with regional president Nechirvan Barzani and his cousin, the prime minister Masrour Barzani.

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