Once the throbbing heart of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Maaret al-Numan is an eerie ghost town where few buildings have been spared by nine years of war.
Following a major ground offensive, the Syrian army captured the town in the northwestern province of Idlib on Wednesday, a key prize in its push to reconquer the country's last rebel enclave.
A day after government forces moved into the deserted town and set up their first checkpoints there since 2012, the landscape was one of desolation.
Maaret al-Numan, home to around 150,000 people four months ago, is now a field of leveled or gutted buildings, where shops' iron shutters are riddled with bullet holes and shrapnel scars.
The only people left in the once-bustling town are a handful of soldiers taking up positions on the rubble-littered streets.
Majed Marahesh, 27, remembers the day he first visited Maaret al-Numan 13 years ago with his classmates and teacher. Now he has traded his schoolbooks for a rifle.
"I remember its beauty and refinement," he tells AFP. "I remember the mosaics in its museum. I am back 13 years later but it's not the town I knew."