Before the war, Aleppo’s ancient walled citadel drew in armies of visitors to one of the Middle East’s greatest treasures.
But for the past four years the Citadel’s high stone ramparts have been on the front line of fighting pitting the Syrian army and its allies against rebels who occupied much of the Old City surrounding the fortress.
Sudden advances by the army led to a ceasefire last week and evacuation of insurgents and many civilians, ending the warfare in Aleppo and putting the city entirely in government hands.
The fate of Aleppo, listed by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site, has been the subject of great anxiety for city residents, archaeologists, historians and travellers, even as they despair for the human suffering caused by the fighting.
“We are now exactly in front of the Citadel’s entrance. These streets are very familiar. My school was nearby. Now, only part of it is left,” said Abdel Rahman Berry, a lawyer. “It was ruined. They ravaged our childhood memories,” he added.