Hundreds of Syrians streamed back into the devastated Old City of Homs on Saturday, picking through the ruins of their homes after a deal that evacuated rebels from the area.
They walked, rode bicycles and motorbikes, and pushed strollers down streets strewn with rubble.
Every building bore signs of the conflict, from bullet holes to enormous craters created by the shells that struck almost daily during a nearly two-year siege.
Many were visibly emotional at the sight of their former neighborhoods, now rendered almost unrecognizable.
Related: Syrian rebels blame sheik-led militias for Homs loss: Many Syrian rebels blame the opposition’s loss of the vital city of Homs this past week on sheiks and their small militias who have drawn funding and arms away from more-experienced antigovernment commanders.
For the past two years, these religious leaders, who also oppose President Bashar al-Assad’s regime but have little battlefield savvy, have attracted most of the funding from the Sunni-led Gulf States that are the rebellion’s main underwriters.