For the first time since the Syrian civil war began, people in the liberated city of Aleppo celebrated Christmas. Last week, the Syrian Army announced it had regained control over Aleppo and the Red Cross announced that the complex operation to evacuate people who “wished” to leave was completed.
The eastern part of the city of Aleppo has been held by anti-Assad rebels since 2012.
Bashar Assad, the president of Syria, thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for Russia’s aid and assistance in liberating Aleppo. He called the evacuation of the city one of the biggest humanitarian operations in the world.
More than 78,000 civilians fled the eastern districts into government controlled areas with help from the Russian Center for Reconciliation. Many leaders are hoping for a Syria-wide ceasefire.
RT reporter Lizzie Phelan talked with residents of Aleppo, many of whom are mourning the losses of their loved ones while they celebrate Christmas.
“We did not expect that this moment would ever actually come. We had four years of pain, of war and blood… We are so happy that we can celebrate once again. Aleppo has been returned to us. This is our homeland. We couldn’t even imagine that we would once again see all this joy and celebration,” a young woman named Maja told Phelan.
One teenager named Reem told Phelan about the death of her sister, Nour, who was killed by a sniper’s bullet while coming home from a basketball games: “Life without her is very hard, but I think about her every minute and I feel like she is with us.”