For the past four months, cameras across the world focused on the Syrian border town of Kobane. The struggle for the city was heavily documented; photographs showed the city engulfed in thick smoke and flames, and videos posted on the Internet showed bodies of those lost on the ground. The city became an important symbol of the war on the Islamic State.

And, on Monday, Kobane was taken back.

Kurdish fighters raised their flag over Kobane as thousands of Kurds on both sides of the border celebrated victory. Even though ground combat continued in the city’s suburbs, for the first time in four months, Kobane was relatively calm.

“Large parts of the city have become uninhabitable due to U.S. and Arab … air raids, detonation of booby-trapped vehicles and mutual shelling,” the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“It’s not a city anymore,” Agence France-Presse photojournalist Bulent Kilic told Time. “I saw all the bombs that were dropped on Kobane during this battle. And there’s only debris left, especially in the eastern part of the town from where ISIS tried to get in,” he said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State.

In the days following the city’s seizure, Kilic and other journalists were granted rare access. For a couple of hours on Wednesday, Kilic roamed freely. “There are hardly any civilians in sight — not surprising as much of the city has been flattened,” Kilic wrote in a blog post. “Huge areas reduced to gutted buildings and rubble … I see perhaps 20 or 30 people who are not fighters, including quite a few children,”

Since September, 100,000 refugees were forced to flee the Islamic State, and many may return to Kobane. Kilic told Time: “It’ll be hard. There’s no heating, no electricity, no water, no shops. … There is nothing left.” He wrote: “Where will they go?”