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Jubilant Syrians prepare for Xmas in Aleppo



Hundreds of people have gathered in the western quarter of Aleppo to light up a sparkling and gigantic Christmas tree as they begin to get back to normal life in the embattled city, which has recently been liberated from the grip of Takfiri militants.

On Tuesday evening, people converged on al-Azizieh Square in western Aleppo to count down as the Christmas tree lights were being turned on.

The participates waved Syrian and Russian flags as well as that of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement, while a band in in Santa Claus suits played brass instruments to evoke an exultant mood.

Following weeks-long counterterrorism operations, the Syrian army, backed by Russian air power, managed earlier this month to retake the eastern parts of Aleppo, which had fallen to militants back in 2012.

A mission is currently underway to evacuate the remaining civilians and armed men from Aleppo’s formerly militant-held areas. The evacuations are part a ceasefire deal brokered by Russia and Turkey.

Residents from the besieged towns of al-Foua and Kefraya wait in a bus to get a green light from Takfiri militants to cross into a government-controlled area in the province of Aleppo, on December 20, 20016. (Photo by AFP)


The celebration in Aleppo comes amid ongoing army operations against the terrorists on the outskirts of the city and elsewhere in the country.

Earlier in the day, Syrian fighter jets pounded militant positions in the city of Anadan, situated 12 kilometers north of Aleppo, as well as Hayyan town. Scores of foreign-backed Takfiri militants were killed in the aerial attacks.

Separately, Syrian forces targeted four pick-up trucks equipped with heavy machineguns in the Rasm al-Harmel district of Deir Hafer town, which lies near the Air Force Academy in southeastern Aleppo, destroying the vehicles and leaving a number of militants onboard dead.

Elsewhere in the central province of Homs, Syrian army soldiers struck terrorists’ hideouts in the town of al-Ghantoo, located 12 kilometers north of Homs, plus Deir Ful and al-Wa’ra villages.

Syria’s privately-owned and Arabic-language Sama television network also reported that more than 70 civilians had left the besieged towns of al-Foua and Kefraya in the northwestern province of Idlib, and arrived in the western port city of Latakia.

The evacuation process in the two villages is also part of the Aleppo truce deal.

Empty buses that are going to be used to evacuated Syrians from eastern Aleppo enter the embattled city through the Ramoussa crossing, on the southern outskirts of Aleppo, on December 20, 2016. (Photo by AFP)


This came as foreign-backed militants have handed over 19 drivers and two dead bodies to Syrian authorities in Damascus. They were among the drivers whose vehicles were set ablaze as they were heading to Foua and Kefraya to rescue civilians.

Moreover, Aleppo City Council says a total of 1,040 families have departed besieged areas in southern Aleppo to government-held neighborhoods in the west.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the number of Syrian evacuees from eastern Aleppo has reached 16,000 people, and many more are to be moved out of the territory within the coming hours and days.

Also on Tuesday, Daesh extremists executed four civilians in the eastern Syrian province of Dayr al-Zawr on charges of cooperation with Kurdish forces.

The terrorists burned the victims to death in front of their relatives in al-Shaitat village.

Additionally, Syrian military aircraft bombarded militant bases in al-Hawiqah and al-Rashidiya neighborhoods of Dayr al-Zawyr city, besides Hosseiniyah and Jadid Akidat districts in the northern and eastern countryside of Dayr al-Zawr.

Fatal Turkish strikes

Meanwhile, seven civilians have lost their lives when Turkish warplane carried out a series of airstrikes on the Syrian city of al-Bab in yet another act of aggression against the sovereignty of the Arab state.

The strikes were part of an ongoing incursion by Turkish military inside northern Syria.

On August 24, Turkish special forces, tanks and jets backed by warplanes from the US-led coalition launched their first coordinated offensive in Syria. On the same day, Damascus strongly denounced the intervention as a breach of its sovereignty.

Senior officials in Damascus have said that any side willing to fight terrorism on the Syrian territory should cooperate with the government and the national army.

Furthermore, Turkey-backed Takfiri militants, with air fire support, have managed to establish full control over the highway linking Bab to Aleppo following intense clashes with Daesh militants.

Reports say a number of Turkish troops were killed or injured during the clashes.

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