UN, Syria reach deal for civilians to leave Homs: Governor
DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
A general view of damaged buildings are seen in the besieged area of Homs Feb 2. AFP photoThe United Nations and Syria have reached a deal to allow civilians to leave areas of Homs under army siege for more than 18 months, the provincial governor said Feb. 5.
"A deal has been secured with the United Nations, under which civilians will be guaranteed an exit from the Old City neighbourhoods very soon," state news agency SANA reported, citing governor Talal Barazi.
The statement came days after regime and opposition representatives meeting for peace talks in Geneva discussed the situation in the besieged districts of the central city.
U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had announced that Damascus agreed to allow women and children out, though the opposition and the regime then accused each other of blocking any further progress.
There had been no deal on the exit of men, or the entry of much-needed aid into the city, where activists say some 3,000 people have been surviving on little more than olives for many weeks.
According to SANA, "the relevant Syrian authorities will implement the deal by providing the necessary humanitarian assistance, including food, shelter and medical aid for innocent civilians who leave" the besieged districts.
The agency added that "food, medicine and other assistance will be sent in for civilians who choose to stay" in the neighbourhoods.
The Old City districts of central Homs have also suffered near-daily shelling ever since the army blockaded them in June 2012.
Abu Ziad, an activist in a besieged area, told AFP via the Internet that "the families are ready to leave. Many of them want to leave."