Syria civil war: Pictures reveal devastation as Assad troops take over rebel-held areas of Homs

City has been besieged by heavy fighting for three years

The scale of devastation unleashed on the key battleground of Homs has been fully revealed as Syrian government troops entered the last rebel-held neighbourhoods in central parts of the city for the first time.

As part an agreement that also granted opposition fighters safe exit from the city once regarded as the ‘capital of the revolution’, bulldozers cleared rubble from the streets of battle-scarred districts to lay bare the level of destruction.

For the past three years, heavy fighting and artillery shelling by the Syrian government has killed thousands and left much of the city completely destroyed.

Some 1,700 rebels have left Homs since Wednesday under the deal struck by the government and opposition. The withdrawal marks a major victory for President Bashar Assad in the civil war.

 

However, even as the government quickly forged ahead another aspect of the negotiated deal hung in the balance. A last batch of some 300 fighters waiting to leave for rebel-held areas north of Homs had been held up after opposition fighters in northern Syria prevented aid from reaching besieged pro-government villages.

Additional reporting by AP

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