Syrian rebels and families start leaving Homs

Published March 18th, 2017 - 11:00 GMT
Syrian government forces stand guard as civilians and rebels began evacuating the district of al-Waer in the city of Homs. (AFP/Louai Beshara)
Syrian government forces stand guard as civilians and rebels began evacuating the district of al-Waer in the city of Homs. (AFP/Louai Beshara)

Residents and fighters began leaving a rebel district in the central Syrian city of Homs, around a week after a ceasefire agreement was reached with the government, state media and a monitoring group reported.

More than 1,500 people are expected to be evacuated from the neighbourhood of al-Waer on Saturday, including around 500 rebels, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

The convoy will take them to the city of Jarabulus, near the border to Turkey. Jarabulus is controlled by Turkish-backed fighters, dubbed Euphrates Shield, the Observatory added.

A convoy is expected to carry 1,500 people every week.

The state-run SANA news agency reported tha the evacuation is supervised by the Syrian Red Crescent as well as Russian and Syrian troops.

The deal had been negotiated between a Russian team and rebels, stipulating that around 12,000 people will leave al-Waer area, among them 2,500 fighters.

Al-Waer is the only neighbourhood still under rebel-control in Homs after government troops took over the city in 2014. It has been besieged by government forces for about five months.

An estimated 50,000 people are believed to be living in al-Waer, down from about 300,000 before the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.


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