Syria, which saw large parts of its country liberated from ISIS this year, is celebrating Christmas and hoping that the fighting is nearing its end as militants lose their control and U.S. troops start to pack up and head home to their families.
Hundreds of Syrians took to the streets of the ancient city of Aleppo to celebrate and of the country’s tallest Christmas trees was unveiled in the capital city of Damascus.
RT reports: Christmas in the Syrian city of Aleppo is a very special holiday indeed – and that’s not since it housed the largest Christian minority in the predominantly Muslim country before the war.
The battle for the city, which raged for four and a half years, ended just a couple days before Christmas back in 2016, and the holiday now goes hand in hand with the liberation celebrations.
The city, once the largest in Syria, has seen years of intense urban warfare, getting split roughly in half between government forces and a conglomerate of assorted militant groups. As the Syrian government forces and their allies scored a decisive victory, the city’s Christians were free to openly celebrate Christmas in – back then, relative – safety.
Two years later, the celebrations have gotten into full swing, starting to resemble the colourful pre-war festivities. Footage from the scene shows the unveiling of the city’s main Christmas tree at the Al Aziziyah square, Santa costume-clad children singing, and fireworks – instead of bullet tracers – lighting up the night skies.
— Gabriel Garroum Pla (@GabrielGarroum) December 24, 2018
The residents of Aleppo hope the whole of Syria will re-emerge from the ashes, as their city did.
“Aleppo is still alive. It went on despite the war and siege. What we witness now, the return of farmers and citizens to their land and villages, destroyed by terrorism, is a good omen,” a local resident told RT’s Ruptly.
“We hope that we can rebuild Syria as it was before. This is a tribute to the steadfast, patient and victorious people of Aleppo. We hope all of Syria would be like [Aleppo], and may we get rid of terrorism. We hope the victory will be there soon. Merry Christmas.”