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Middle east

Rebel deal with Damascus to allow evacuation of Homs

© Afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-05

A deal struck at the weekend between Syria's government and opposition rebel fighters to leave the Old City of Homs will be implemented within the next 48 hours, the provincial governor said Monday.

"We will begin the application of the initiative in the coming 48 hours depending on the situation on the ground," Homs governor Talal al-Barazi told AFP.

"I hope that things will go smoothly, in which case the initiative will be completed quickly," he added.

The agreement involves some 2,250 fighters, civilians and injured people who have been trapped in neighbourhoods that have been under a government siege for nearly two years and who will be granted safe passage out of the area under the accord, the opposition said.

"We have agreed that they will head towards Talbisseh and Dar al-Kabira," Barazi said, referring to two rebel-held districts in the north of Homs province.

The governor said various logistical issues had been adressed in the "arrangement" made with the opposition rebels, including determining "an appropriate route, the people who will be present at the departure and arrival points to ensure the security of the convoy, the security points on the route and the removal of the mines placed by the rebels in the Old City".

"We have to prepare properly because if this is successful, we will be able to continue in Waer," he said.

Waer will be the only remaining rebel-held area of Homs after the evacuation of the besieged Old City and the surrounding areas. Several hundred thousand people live there, including thousands displaced from other areas.

Rebel fighters have said that the agreement involves the freeing of 70 Lebanese and Iranian prisoners being held by the rebel Islamic Front – an alliance of Syria's jihadist groups – in the northern province of Aleppo, as well as allowing aid access to two Shiite pro-regime villages currently under rebel siege in the same province.

Barazi denied the existence of Iranian hostages but said all initiatives between the rebels and government involved efforts to seek the release of hostages and granting access to humanitarian aid.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-05-05

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