Now some Syrian civilians have returned to the heavily damaged neighbourhoods of Ansri and Zibdiah in eastern Aleppo. The return is the first for them in five years, following the full evacuation of rebels on Thursday.
The rebel evacuation leaves the battered city entirely under the control of the army and its allies after years of fighting. Braving the cold, the war-weary civilians were able to cross districts that were previously the dangerous front line, coming back to their homes that they had not seen in years.
"We have not been back here in five years. Now thank God, and it is all because of the Syrian army's efforts."
"We did not come here for five years. Our joy is very great. Following the liberation by the Syrian army, we came here to see our homes."
"Thank God. It is an indescribable joy."