Last rebel convoy poised to leave Syria's Homs: governor
HOMS, Syria - Agence France-Presse
In this Wednesday, May 7, 2014 photo shows Free Syrian Army fighters board a bus leaving Homs, Syria. AP PhotoA last group of Syrian rebels is poised to leave the Old City of Homs, completing a negotiated pullout from the heart of the city, the provincial governor said Thursday.
"The third and final convoy of the day is about to leave," Governor Talal al-Barazi told AFP.
"Earlier today, 200 rebels were evacuated. There are another 500 people who are about to be evacuated. The whole operation has been smooth," he said.
The rebels' negotiated withdrawal from the city centre where they had held out under siege for nearly two years is the first in more than three years of conflict.
A total of 980 people, most of them rebels but some of them civilians, left the Old City on the first day of the UN-supervised evacuation on Wednesday.
The evacuees are being bussed out to the opposition-held town of Dar al-Kabira, 20 kilometres (13 miles) to the north.
The operation leaves the rebels confined to a single district in the outskirts of a city that was for long an iconic bastion of the uprising.
Barazi said he expected a similar evacuation agreement to be reached there soon too. "In Waer, things will be easier and in the coming weeks new deals will be announced to restore security," he said.
The government allowed the remaining rebels in Homs to pull out with some of their weapons in return for the release of dozens of prisoners and hostages held by opposition fighters and the delivery of relief supplies to two pro-government towns in the north which they have besieged.
It is not the first deal between the government and the rebels -- a number of ceasefires have been agreed in the outskirts of Damascus.
But it is the first time that rebel fighters have withdrawn from an area they controlled under an accord with the government.