Syrian rebels begin to leave besieged Homs district: Reuters witness, monitor, state media

Reuters News
Posted: May 20, 2017 5:51 AM

HOMS, Syria/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels began to leave the last opposition-held district of Homs city on Saturday under an evacuation deal that will see President Bashar al-Assad's government take back the area, a Reuters witness, a monitor and state media said.

At least one bus carrying rebel fighters and their families left the al-Waer district earlier, and dozens more were expected to follow, bringing some 2,500 people out of the neighbourhood long besieged by government forces and their allies.

The evacuation of al-Waer district is one of the largest of its kind, after a series of similar deals in recent months brought many areas of western Syria long held by the opposition and besieged by government and allied forces back under Assad's control.

The al-Waer agreement began to be implemented in March. By the time it is completed, up to 20,000 people will have left the district, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says.

Many of the rebels are to head for insurgent-held Idlib province in Syria's northwest and to the town of Jarablus along the country's northern border with Turkey, pro-Damascus media reported.

Some are to stay in al-Waer and hand over their weapons.

(Reporting by Marwan Makdesi and John Davison, editing by Louise Heavens)