RELIGION

Catholic envoy to Holy Land expresses hope for Aleppo

  • A Christian worshipper prays after lighting a candle on Christmas Eve at the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

    A Christian worshipper prays after lighting a candle on Christmas Eve at the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Palestinian dressed as Santa Claus takes a picture on Christmas Eve in Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

    A Palestinian dressed as Santa Claus takes a picture on Christmas Eve in Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Christian clergymen waiting for the arrival of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, center, at the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, on Christmas Eve, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

    Christian clergymen waiting for the arrival of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, center, at the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, on Christmas Eve, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

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.