Syria, which saw large parts of its territory liberated from Islamists this year, is celebrating Christmas with pre-war fervor, hoping that the war is nearing its end as militant control dwindles and foreign actors leave.
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The bloodshed in Syria has affected everyone in the country, yet its religious minorities have undoubtedly seen the worst, having faced extreme persecution by the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists and other hardline Islamists regarding their beliefs. In areas under IS rule, celebrating Christmas was out of the question. Now, as peaceful life returns to the country, things are changing for the better.
Recently, one of the country’s tallest Christmas trees was unveiled in the capital city of Damascus. A large crowd of people, many dressed in Christmas costumes, gathered to celebrate the occasion, dancing and singing.
“This is a carnival parade … in order to light up the tallest tree in Damascus which is 30 meters tall, in addition to nativity grotto, with a lot of love and happiness for everyone,” one of the bystanders told RT’s video agency Ruptly, adding that it was a message “from the heart of Damascus to the entire world.”
The tree itself is actually a large, half-transparent cone, which gives soft green glow at night.
Over the year, the capital city was fully liberated as various jihadist militants were expelled from its suburbs. As normal life gets back on track, celebrations are becoming more and more colorful, almost as they were before the start of the war. One can simply compare this year’s festivities with those of 2015 when the capital was effectively under militant siege.
Things have changed dramatically in Syria since 2015, as the jihadist militants have been driven out from large parts of the county, some with the help of Russia.
“We are now in 2018, we thank God that we reached this period, because we could neither celebrate appropriately, nor was their happiness in Syria, but we are very happy this year, and thank God that all of us are gathered to celebrate together,” a bystander said.
We say “good luck” to France and other states who are living now what we have been through, it is not a gloat, but we say: “have a taste of what we experienced” and we say: “thank God, and Merry Christmas.”
This year, the Syrians also received a special Christmas gift, when US President Donald Trump announced his decision to pull out all US troops occupying parts of the country’s north.
While warlike officials and media have bemoaned the move, claiming it would lead to a resurgence of ISIS in the region, the Syrians appear to be more focused on celebrating Christmas.
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