Ukrainian civilians in Kherson expressed joy Saturday for the liberation of their city from Russian occupation. Residents in towns and villages where Ukrainian troops passed through on their way to Kherson cheered soldiers and gave them flowers to show their happiness and gratitude.

Among them was 66-year-old Natalya Porhun who told Anadolu Agency that after eight months, residents are crying again -- this time because of joy, not sorrow when the city was occupied by the Russians. “We are happy with welcoming our troops back here. Under Russian occupation, we even couldn’t freely roam around,” she said.

Valentia Bogayeva. 61, said people are extremely happy about the return of Ukrainian soldiers to the city. “For the last two days, we didn’t go home to welcome our soldiers. We embrace soldiers we meet and give them flowers,” she said.

The Ukrainian military started to enter the southern city of Kherson on Friday after the Russian withdrawal from the region. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and leaders of western countries hailed it as a major Ukrainian victory.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said the Russian decision to withdraw was “positive and important.”