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Aleppo celebrates Christmas as Assad visits Damascus convent

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Aleppo celebrates Christmas as Assad visits Damascus convent
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his family visited a convent north of Damascus on Christmas day.

It is his first public appearance since his regime forces won back the northern city Aleppo from rebels.

These pictures from Syrian state television show Assad meeting nuns and orphans dressed in Santa costumes.

The Syrian Army took the last rebel-held enclaves last week, as rebels and civilians were evacuated.

This ceremony is the first peaceful Christmas mass in Aleppo’s St Eilas Church since rebels took control of East Aleppo four years ago.

Aleppo’s Christians were joined by Orthodox Patriarch John Yazigi of Damascus’ Church of Antioch, who led the Mass.

Years of fighting and bombardment have left the city in ruins, a shell of the bustling city it used to be

On Friday, the leaders of Russia, Iran, Turkey and Syria agreed on Kazakh capital Astana as the venue for new peace talks