As President Trump announces US preparations to withdraw combat troops from Syria, footage and pictures from its capital Damascus show scenes of calm, with the Christmas season in full swing in a city once paralyzed by violence and jihadist oppression.

“Merry Christmas from Syria’s Damascus. A sight you would have never seen under Obama and Hillary’s Al-Qaeda ‘rebels,'” tweeted Lebanese journalist Sarah Abdallah on Wednesday.

Other pictures show Syrian children shopping for stuffed animals and candy at the local marketplaces.

A choir of children sang Christmas songs in the Damascus town square, a scene that would have been unheard of only a few years ago when ISIS controlled a large swath of Syrian territory.

Trump had announced that the Pentagon would prepare to withdraw U.S. troops after declaring the defeat of ISIS.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” he tweeted.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders reiterated that the US is not retreating from its ideological war with radical Islam, rather the military is transitioning to a new “phase of this campaign.”

“Five years ago, ISIS was a very powerful and dangerous force in the Middle East, and now the United States has defeated the territorial caliphate,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

“These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign. We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign.”


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