Hundreds of people have returned to Homs as the Syrian army regained control of the city, according to a correspondent with the AFP news agency.
The residents, displaced by three years of war, climbed over debris and inspected the ruins of their battered neighbourhoods on Friday.
“I had seen on Facebook that my home had been destroyed, but I couldn’t believe it,” Jaqueline Fawwas, a 30-year-old woman, told AFP. “I wanted to see it with my own eyes.”
Another woman, who did not identify herself, said, “I came to check on my house, but I couldn’t find it. I didn’t find a roof, I didn’t find walls. I only found this coffee cup, which I will take with me as a souvenir.”
Residents were allowed to return to Homs due to an agreement between the government and opposition fighters that also granted fighters safe exit from the city.
More than 1,700 opposition fighters have left Homs since Wednesday, under the deal.
|Homs’ governor the day before Syrian forces took full control of the city|
Bulldozers also cleared rubble from the streets of battle-scarred districts in the central Syrian city on Friday.
Talal al-Barazi, the governor of Homs, said engineering units were combing the old neighbourhoods, including the former opposition stronghold of Hamidiyeh, in search of mines and other explosives.
Syrian state TV reported that two soldiers were killed while dismantling a bomb.
An AP reporter in Homs, on a military-led tour, said soldiers and pro-government militiamen fanned out across the city’s districts to provide security.
The opposition withdrawal, which ended a fierce, two-year battle for the country’s third largest city, marked a major victory for President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war.
For Syria’s opposition, it was a devastating blow.
Fighters are now confined to a single district on the outskirts of Homs, which was once considered “the capital of the revolution” against Assad.