Two very different moods persisted in Aleppo Wednesday as plans to evacuate civilians from its war-torn eastern neighborhoods were reportedly stalled by violence as negotiations between allies of the Syrian government and opposition forces broke down. Meanwhile, residents of the western part of Aleppo celebrated Syrian President Bashar Assad's victory, which is expected to result in a rebel withdrawal from the city.

Aleppo, Syria's largest city and commercial capital prior to the war, has been particularly devastated by the five-year conflict that's killed up to 400,000 people across the country. Armed rebel groups, backed by the West and its allies, arose from popular anti-government protests in 2011 and began to take large swaths of the city in 2012. Since then, it has been subject to near-constant warfare between opposition forces including jihadist groups such as Jabhat Fatah Al Sham, formerly Al Qaeda's Al Nusra Front, and the Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS, and forces loyal to the Syrian government and its allies, backed by Russian airstrikes.

A recent advance by the Syrian military reversed years of territorial losses and ultimately ended with a declaration of total victory Tuesday, ousting the rebels from their last major urban center in the country. Despite repeated attempts to negotiate a ceasefire and evacuate civilians from the remaining rebel-held sections of the city, talks were stalled when rebels rejected a condition imposed by Iran, an ally of the Syrian government, to also ensure the evacuation of wounded from two Shi'ite-majority villages recently shelled by opposition forces. A Turkey-based Syrian opposition official accused Iran of sabotaging the deal. 

Both sides also accused one another of committing atrocities against the city's residents. Rebels reported the alleged execution of 82 civilians by pro-government forces and blamed pro-government forces for some 30,000 civilian deaths throughout the battle for the city. The Syrian government and its allies accused the rebels, who they often refer to as terrorists, of holding the city hostage for four years. Russia said Tuesday the opposition "kept over 100,000 people in east Aleppo as human shields."

Residents themselves echoed these polarizing claims. One man living in a rebel-held area spoke of "many corpses in Fardous and Bustan al-Qasr with no one to bury them” and people sleeping in the streets, while another returning to a neighborhood under government control said, "No matter the circumstances, our home is better than displacement," Reuters reported.

RTX2UQJV Supporters of Syria's President Bashar Assad carry their national flags and gesture as they tour the streets in celebration of the Syrian army's victory against the rebels in Aleppo, Dec. 12, 2016. Photo: Reuters

RTX2UXYV A man carries a child with an IV drip as he flees deeper into the remaining rebel-held areas of Aleppo, Syria, Dec.12 2016. Photo: Reuters