Syrian rebels begin to evacuate besieged city of Homs
Hundreds of Syrian rebels have started to evacuate their bastions in the central city of Homs on Wednesday under the conditions of a ceasefire deal struck last week with the government, opposition activists and the governor of the besieged city reported.
By early morning on Wednesday, five buses loaded up with scores of rebels travelled to the police post on the edge of the opposition-held areas of the city ahead of the major evacuation, according to Homs-based activists who spoke to the Associated Press (AP). Later in the morning, two of the buses left Homs and headed north.
A pro-opposition activist who goes by the name of Abu Yassin al-Homsi spoke to AP and reported that some 1,200 fighters are expected to leave the besieged city on Wednesday, when it will be handed over to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The evacuated rebels will be taken a few kilometres north of Homs to the towns of Talbiseh and al-Dar al-Kabira on the northern edge of the central province, according to AP.
Syrian army officers accompanied the rebel’s buses, and the beginning of the evacuation was confirmed by Homs governor Talal Barazi.
Under the conditions of the ceasefire, opposition fighters will allow aid into two pro-government northern towns that have been under the control of the rebels on the proviso that they are allowed to evacuate safely.
Britain-based pro-opposition activist network the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the road leading to the besieged villages of Nubul and Zahra were opened by rebels in conjunction with the evacuation.
Widespread hunger and starvation in rebel-held areas have plighted Homs for over a year as Syrian government forces refuse to allow aid supplies in or out of the opposition enclaves of the city.