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Gunmen and Their Families to Leave al-Waer Neighborhood in Homs

Gunmen and Their Families to Leave al-Waer Neighborhood in Homs”

18 de marzo de 2017, 09:10Damascus, Mar 18 (Prensa Latina) The first group of armed extremists and their families started their evacuation from the neighborhood of Al Waer, the last section of the Syrian city of Homs that they occupied, authorities in that central province confirmed on Saturday.

Homs governor Talal Barazi said he expected 1,500 people to depart on Saturday for rebel-held areas north-east of Aleppo, and that most of al-Waer's residents would stay.

Along with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), Russian and Syrian forces were overseeing the evacuation, which would take about six weeks, he said.

Militants and civilians have poured into Idlib at an accelerating rate over the past year, bussed out of other parts of western Syria that the government and allied forces recaptured from rebels.

The government has reached reconciliation deals for several rebel-held areas, and claims such agreements that grant safe passage to surrendering fighters are key to ending six years of war. The evacuation is the third phase of an agreement reached past year that saw hundreds of fighters and their families leave the area.

Homs was the early center of the 2011 popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

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People there say they have been told to get out or die. A United Nations convoy tried to gain access to the district in February but it was seized by gunmen who diverted the assistance to a government-held area.

Speaking to Chinese TV station Phoenix last week, President Assad said ceasefire deals negotiated with local rebel leaders were "the real political solutions" that could lead to a lasting peace in war-torn Syria.

The al-Waer neighbourhood is home to about 75,000 people and has been under a government siege since 2013, triggering shortages of medicine, and occasionally of food.

More groups of fighters and civilians are expected to leave the district in the next two months.

Broadcasting live from the Al-Waer departure area, Syrian state television spoke to a Russian soldier, who said via an interpreter that security would soon return to the district.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the buses would go to the Jarablus area in the north, held by Turkey-backed rebels. Russian Federation is an ally of Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime.

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