After almost a decade of war, the very name Syria seems synonymous with conflict and destruction. Yet a short video filmed at a Christmas market in Damascus reveals that peace - and joy - are making a comeback.
The video shows a cozy Christmas bazaar inside a church, where the believers traded homemade sweets, decorations, ornaments and even locally made wine.
Santa Claus and the elves are among the decorations, and several costumed Santas can be seen both inside and outside. Several trees strung with flashing lights and ornaments are also on display. It could be a scene from anywhere in the West, and only signs in Arabic suggest otherwise.
Christians were about a tenth of Syria's population prior to the war, many of them in the northern city of Aleppo. Celebrations of Christmas ramped up after Aleppo was liberated from Islamist militants in 2016, and were in full glory last year, after the self-styled Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) was ousted from the last bit of territory it had claimed.
Yet most mainstream media in the West have chosen to ignore these festivities, as they do not fit their narrative that the government in Damascus is sectarian and intolerant, as opposed to the Western-backed "moderate" Islamist rebels.