Father Christmas visited Baghdadâ€™s fortified Green Zone on Saturday evening.Â Flanked by Mother Christmas, a reindeer and a couple of elves, he dropped by the American Embassy compound to spread some festive cheer among a few dozen US soldiers and diplomats as well as a smattering of officials from other countries.
â€œWe appreciate all your hard work in the North Pole. Thank you,â€ Father Christmas said, standing on a raised platform that had been made to look like a brick chimney.
His appearance was part of a Christmas tree lighting ceremony on a wide patio area next to an outdoor swimming pool at the former Republican Palace of Saddam Hussein where the embassy is temporarily housed.
Also getting involved in the Yuletide spirit, the top British officer in Iraq had the honour of turning on a twinkling string of lights that twisted around the large, brightly decorated Christmas tree, which stood next to a giant inflatable snowman.
Lieutenant General Bill Rollo dutifully climbed onto the chimney-stage and flicked the light switch as the assembled crowd sipped hot chocolate from polystyrene cups and munched Christmas cookies.