Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Markets | By Terence Owen

Hundreds quit last rebel-held district of Syria's Homs

Hundreds quit last rebel-held district of Syria's Homs

The Syrian regime has since wrestled back complete control of Homs city - with the exception of al-Waer - and a year ago announced plans for ambitious rebuilding projects in several districts of the city, none of which appear to have begun.

Homs' governor Talal al-Barazi said the Saturday evacuation included some 1,500 people, among them at least 400 militants.

That backing has helped government forces recapture swathes of territory, including the whole of second city Aleppo as well as the famed desert city of Palmyra.

Al-Wair is home to an estimated 75,000 people and has been under siege by government forces since late 2013. "A total of 300 militants and 1,065 civilians, who are members of their families, left al-Waer", Barazi said.

Rebels will be bussed to opposition-held parts of Homs province, the town of Jarabulus on the Syrian-Turkish border or the northwest province of Idlib.

The Russian-supervised evacuation of Waer was agreed earlier this month and is expected to last several weeks.

Al-Barrazi denied statements that said al-Waer residents are being forced to leave their homes, adding that thousands will stay on and many departing because of violence will return in the future.

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The agreement after a month of escalated shelling of the neighborhood by pro-regime forces, according to a UK-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

They left for the northern countryside of Homs province in the framework of implementing the reconciliation agreement that was reached in the neighborhood, paving the way for the return of all the governmental institutions to it.

Syrian state television said that under the agreement, fighters could stay in al-Waer if they handed over their weapons and settled their affairs with the government.

The most notorious of the agreements was the December evacuation of the rebel-held east of Aleppo after months of siege and bombardment that killed hundreds of residents. Russian Federation is an ally of Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime.

The Syrian conflict began six years ago, when the Baath regime - in power since 1963 and led by Bashar al-Assad -responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

The wide array of mostly Sunni rebel factions includes jihadists as well as some groups supported by the United States, Turkey, and Gulf monarchies.

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