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Christmas in Daraa: Syrian town celebrates after liberation from militants (VIDEO)

Christmas in Daraa: Syrian town celebrates after liberation from militants (VIDEO)
Residents of Izraa, a town in the Daraa province in southern Syria, celebrated Christmas for the first time since the region was liberated from armed anti-government militants.

Worshipers flocked to the Mar Elias Church to attend the Christmas Eve service on Monday. Video from the event shows people dressed in Santa Claus costumes, Christmas lights displays, fireworks, and even a drum line orchestra performing “Jingle bells” and other festive music.

"Today, we are actually celebrating the new birth of Syria along with the birth of the Christ, which has been made possible through [the return] of safety and security. We thank God that [Hauran] belongs again to its motherland," Najeeb Romeyih, pastor of the Mar Elias Church, told Ruptly.

Hauran is the region along the Syrian border with Jordan that was held for years by armed groups seeking to overthrow the government in Damascus. Their stronghold of Daraa surrendered to government forces in July this year. Izraa is a town of some 20,000 residents north of Daraa, on the road to Damascus.

Also on rt.com Syrians celebrate Christmas & hope for lasting peace as US troops pull out (VIDEOS)

Syrian Christians celebrated Christmas in cities and towns under government control, with major festivities taking place in Damascus and Aleppo in particular. Last week, Washington announced it would withdraw all US troops from the country, leading to hopes that areas liberated from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) by US-backed forces in the northeast will be reunified with the rest of the country.

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