Yesterday, the Syrian army took full control of the city after the last rebel group fled the area. Father Ibrahim notes that "all churches and all mosques" celebrated the "dream" that has “come true". People are "festive" and "This is the best gift we could ever imagine”. In a Christmas video, children from the Latin parish send their greetings.
Aleppo (AsiaNews) – As soon as we received the news "all the churches and all the mosques of Aleppo" celebrated and "those who still had bells rang them for a long time with joy. This is really a dream come true," said 44-year-old Fr Ibrahim Alsabagh.
The Franciscan, who is guardian and pastor of the Latin parish of Aleppo, spoke to AsiaNews about the surrender of armed militias in Aleppo.
"After long negotiations, the armed groups handed in their weapons, and left the eastern part of the city. Now the army considers the city safe," he explained.
Two days "before the birth of the King of peace," the end of the war in Aleppo is the best gift for the entire population, said Fr Ibrahim.
"Everyone is celebrating," he noted. “This is the best gift we could ever imagine. Only God could make it happen. We asked him for this gift and He has heard us ... Magnificat anima mea!"
Yesterday, the Syrian army took full control of Aleppo, northern Syria’s largest city, and once the country’s economic and commercial hub.
Members of the last rebel group, holed up in an redoubt, laid down their weapons and fled the area.
In a statement, the Syrian military announced that "security has returned to Aleppo" and a "fatal blow was dealt " to rebel militias and Jihadis.
"All civilians who wished to be evacuated have been, as well as wounded and fighters," an International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson is quoted as saying.
Syria’s second largest city had divided into two sectors since the summer of 2012: a government-held western part, home to about 1.2 million people; and the rebel-controlled eastern section, whose 250,000 residents were besieged for months.
The battle for Aleppo is the most significant victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the war broke out in March 2011.
The bloody conflict has claimed hundreds of thousands of victims, including civilians, and displaced millions, triggering one of the worst humanitarian crises of recent history.
The end of the fighting is "the fruit of children’s prayers for peace," Fr Ibrahim said. "We have experienced five Christmas with Aleppo suffering," he added. Now, “Hopefully, the birth of the King shall bring peace and new life to Aleppo, Syria and the world. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas."
For Christmas, the Latin parish of Aleppo made a video in Italian, English, French, and Arabic with the parish priest and some children.
A girl named Christie says in English: “I pray to stop the war, and [that] my friends come back and peace remains in our homes and hearts." A boy, in French, thanks all those who helped Aleppo families victims of war for their "generosity" because now “we are going to spend beautiful holidays," the first, in many years without the sound of war in the background.