In photos: Civilians return to devastated Homs after rebel retreat
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Syrian officials said Friday that civilians have begun returning to the central city of Homs following the rebel retreat from their former stronghold.
Rebel fighters have finalised their withdrawal from the Old City of Homs, once dubbed the “capital of the Syrian revolution,” following a two-year siege by forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad.
“We have completed the evacuation of armed men,” Homs Governor Talal told the AFP news agency, referring to the more than 2,000 people, mainly insurgents, who have been pulling out of the area since Wednesday.
The fighters were allowed safe passage as part of a landmark deal that also included the delivery of aid to two pro-regime towns in Aleppo province.
While Syrian soldiers regained control of Homs, residents began returning to their old neighbourhoods, many to find their homes in utter ruin. An AFP journalist said some people cried as they climbed over debris, often the only thing left of their former neighbourhoods.
Government bulldozers cleared rubble in parts of the central city, and the true extent of the devastation quickly emerged.
The pullout from the Old City leaves the rebels confined to a single district on the outskirts of what was once a bastion of power for the opposition.