The UN has reached a deal with the Syrian regime to allow civilians to leave the besieged city of Homs, the state news agency reported Thursday. Activists say hundreds of families remain trapped without access to basic necessities.
"The governor of Homs, Talal Barazi, told SANA that a deal has been secured with the United Nations, under which civilians will be guaranteed an exit from the Old City neighbourhoods very soon," the SANA state news outlet reported.
Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have been launching an offensive on rebel-held areas of the city for more than 18 months, virtually cutting off the city from food, water and medical supplies from the outside.
The Old City districts have seen almost daily shelling since the Syrian army blockaded them in June 2012.
Activists say about 800 families remain trapped, without regular access to basic necessities.
"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," SANA reported.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said earlier on Thursday that an agreement to allow humanitarian aid into the city was also being negotiated. International organisations, including the UN and the Red Cross, have been seeking access to the city since mid-2012.
Ending Homs's isolation was one of the key points under discussion at a round of peace talks in Geneva late last month between the Assad regime and representatives of the opposition rebels. A bilateral agreement was struck to allow women and children to leave the city but the deal never came to fruition.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-02-06