Just a few kilometres away from the frontline, Christians in the Syrian capital Damascus gathered for a rare celebration on Thursday amidst the fighting and instability that has gripped the country for over four years.
Men and women dressed as Father Christmas handed out presents as they walked through streets adorned with festive decorations.
“We are distributing gifts to the kids,” explained Salim, one of the Santas. “They are children of people killed in the war who are now orphans. We are trying to give gifts to all Syrian children to help them forget the war.”
Meanwhile Saint Kyrillos church in the Christian neighbourhood of Al Qassaa’, welcomed worshipers for a Christmas Eve mass.
Christians make up 11% of the Syrian population. Many have fled the country but those who remain say they are preparing for the next battle – the battle for reconstruction once the war finally ends.