Christianity

Top Catholic cleric in Holy Land expresses hope for Aleppo

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.