Published On: Mon, Dec 26th, 2016

Aleppo Celebrates First Peaceful Christmas Since 2012

nsnbc : Christians, as well as many secularists and Muslims alike, celebrated the first peaceful Christmas in the Syrian city of Aleppo since 2012. 2016 was the first time that citizens of Aleppo could rally around the Christmas tree in the city center since Islamist militants took over large swaps of the city in 2012. Aleppo was liberated earlier this month.

aleppo_syria_christmas-celebrations-in-aleppo-in-2016Many of the residents of Aleppo celebrated the rally around the Christmas tree as a sign of hope that peace soon could and would return to Syria. In fact, almost all citizens of Aleppo of all religious denominations celebrated the fact that the city had been liberated, that the “rebels” had been expelled or evacuated, and that it has become safe again to practice any, or no religion at all.

But behind the celebratory smiles, there is an exhausted people who know how many hardships they and the country are facing. Tens of thousands have been displaced and can only slowly return to their homes in Aleppo or what is left of them. Others are forced to live with relatives, reside in over-burdened refugee camps where the much-fabled international humanitarian support comes more slowly than  supplies of munitions for “rebels”, and some have to sleep out in the open in makeshift shelters, exposed to the elements and winter weather.

Priests prayed in the St. Elias Cathedral, a place that was at the frontline between “rebels” and government plus allied forces no more days ago than even a child can count. Prayers were said for peace, and for those who had given their lives to make these celebrations possible.

Many Syrians who initially supported the popular protests in 2011 are now firmly supporting the Syrian government and President Al-Assad. It took a while until those who had legitimate grievances and protested, or those many who merely went with the flow as the “Arab Spring” swept across the region in 2011 had changed sides, and many changed sides several times as the war became ever more complex. As it became increasingly clear that the “protests” had been hijacked by international powers, many Syrians, maybe more than in 2011, stand now firmly behind their government as the only thing that stands between themselves and barbarism.

So, hundreds of people danced around the Christmas tree and celebrated in the Aziziya neighborhood of Aleppo. What may be most telling about the “rebels”, their backers, and the “freedom” they purported to advocate in their propaganda may be the fact that the Christian population of Aleppo has shrunk since the start of the conflict in 2011 from approximately 250.000 to around 50.000.

CH/L – nsnbc 26.12.2016

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