Syria (CNN)“Thank you Russia! Thank you Hezbollah! Thank you Iran!” shouts the man, as he passes us in the busy square.
Nearby, a photograph of Bashar al-Assad beams down from the front of the town hall, and banners in support of the Syrian President hang outside the main mosque.
This is Nubl, a mostly Shia, pro-government town in Syria, so close to the border with Turkey that on the way here our phones constantly switched to Turkish mobile networks.
Until two weeks ago Nubl and its neighbor al-Zahra were under siege; various rebel factions, including the al-Nusra Front and others linked to the Free Syrian Army, controlled the countryside nearby for more than three years.
Then the Syrian army — backed by pro-Iranian militias and supported by controversial Russian air strikes — broke through.
In Nubl, al-Assad-supporting local residents are still jubilant; “God, Syria, Bashar, and nothing else,” a group of them chanted as we approached.
Many houses are decorated with posters of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Outside the town hall, 14-year-old Zolfiqar Ali Jawish is selling cigarettes and candy. He says life under siege was a struggle.
“It was tough,” he tells us. “Many people got sick and the kids were very scared. But after a while we became numb to the fear.
“Sometimes it took very long to get aid in here,” he added. “It was awful because there was shelling all the time as well.”
— Syrian Red Crescent (@SYRedCrescent) February 9, 2016