As the remaining 150,000 trapped Aleppo residents continue an exhaustive evacuation to northern Syria and regions along the Syrian-Turkish border, families are wondering whether they’ll ever be able to see their homeland again. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday a truce deal had been signed by the Syrian government, allowing peace talks to begin for a conflict that has lasted for five years and displaced over 11 million people.

But the evacuation process and path forward after civilians are removed from battlegrounds remain complicated, as several factions of rebel forces and terror organizations on the ground remain armed and opposed to the Syrian regime. Aleppo, which had previously been held by forces fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, has largely been taken over by the government after a joint-coalition backed by Russia and Iran spearheaded aerial bombardments throughout the historic city for years.

The Turkish foreign ministry announced a ceasefire would begin by Thursday at midnight, noting some forces on the ground would likely continue battling as Syrians make their way to safety. Putin backed the ceasefire efforts, also announcing Russia would participate with a "reduction" in forces on the ground.

The three documents Putin said had been signed Wednesday included a ceasefire deal brokered between the Syrian regime and the rebels, specific measures for overseeing the ceasefire and a brokered agreement to begin peace talks. The Russian president admitted each agreement was "fragile," but Moscow would comply and support a ceasefire as long as forces on the ground did the same.

RTX2VOSI Rebel fighters and civilians waiting near damaged buildings to be evacuated from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo, Syria Dec. 18, 2016. Picture taken December 18, 2016. Photo: Reuters

Also supporting the ceasefire was Syria’s leading opposition body, the National Coalition. A spokesman for the group told news outlets the opposition’s Free Syrian Army would stand behind the ceasefire as well, but would "retaliate to violations" from the regime and allied forces. 

If the ceasefire and peace talks are successful, 2017 could prove to be a major turning point in the Syrian civil war, and possibly even mark the beginning of the end. Previous ceasefires in early December dissolved into chaos and confusion, as forces on the ground possibly backed by the regime began targeting ambulances and civilians fleeing Aleppo. Humanitarian workers reported casualties among volunteers and Aleppo residents, delaying evacuation efforts as Syrians were left stranded in subzero temperatures without essential resources.

RTX2VOP8 Red Crescent members holding hands while rebel fighters and civilians wait to be evacuated from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo, Syria Dec. 18, 2016. Photo: Reuters

As the New Year arrives, Syria’s harrowing state of humanity appears somewhat less grim, as thousands safely make the exit from dangerous regions to sanctioned safe zones, where volunteers are waiting with food and water.

Meanwhile, neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia are launching fundraising relief campaigns, with the Saudi Arabian king and his family donating millions to the cause. Turkey has also allocated funding and resources to establish refugee camps for fleeing Syrians over the coming months along the border.