Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All East John X Yazigi leads prayers during Christmas mass at the Elias Orthodox Church in Aleppo on December 24, 2016. (AFP / George OURFALIAN)
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Christians in Aleppo celebrated under a giant Christmas tree lit up for the first time in five years, hailing what many described as the return of peace to a city that came back under full government control last week.The fall of rebel-held east Aleppo was the biggest victory of Syria's nearly six-year-old civil war for supporters of President Bashar Assad, and many in pro-government parts of the city have been jubilant.Outside the city, rebels still hold at least 40 percent of Aleppo province, and rebels have still fired sporadic shells from the fringes of the city to the south.Russian jets resumed heavy strikes on rebel-held rural areas of Aleppo province after a pause during a ceasefire to complete the evacuation of rebels from the city.Thousands of people who were bused out of Aleppo's rebel-held eastern districts as they fell to government forces have ended up in makeshift camps exposed to severe winter weather.
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