Catholic envoy to Holy Land expresses hope for Aleppo

"I hope they rebuild the city, not only the infrastructure but common relations that was a tradition over there."

Mideast Syria
This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian troops and pro-government gunmen marching walk inside the destroyed Grand Umayyad mosque in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Government forces and rebel fighters have fought to control the 12th century mosque in the last four years, until Syrian troops seized control of it this week. Syrian rebels said Tuesday that they reached a cease-fire deal with Moscow to evacuate civilians and fighters from eastern Aleppo, after the U.N. and opposition activists reported possible mass killings by government forces closing in on the rebels' last enclave. (SANA via AP)

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — The top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land says he’s glad that “at least the military war” in the Syrian city of Aleppo is over and that Christians there can celebrate Christmas “without fear.”

Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa traveled from Jerusalem in a traditional Christmas Eve procession on Saturday ahead of midnight Mass in Bethlehem.

He told The Associated Press that he hoped the people of Aleppo could “rebuild the city, not only the infrastructure but also the common relations that was a tradition over there.”

The Syrian government assumed full control of Aleppo earlier this month when rebels, including some Islamic militants, agreed to withdraw from their last remaining enclave after more than four years of heavy fighting over the country’s largest city.


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