Syrian Rebel Evacuation from Homs Postponed for Two to Three Days

A Syrian Army soldier looks out of a look out point near a bus that was supposed to evacuate people near the entrance of the Waer district in the central Syrian city of Homs, Syria September 20, 2016. The text on the wall reads in Arabic, "Essential in the practice of democracy". REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

BEIRUT, Sept 20 – The governor of Homs said late on Monday the planned evacuation of several hundred Syrian rebels from their last foothold in the city would be postponed for several days because it was difficult to guarantee their safe passage.

The evacuation was expected to begin on Monday to Idlib province, part of the Syrian government’s attempts to conclude local agreements with rebels in besieged areas to give them safe passage to the insurgent stronghold of Idlib in northwestern Syria.

“When conditions are right, the evacuation of fighters and their families will happen straight away,” Homs Governor Talal Barazi said late on Monday.

Barazi said the evacuation in 22 busses of around 300 fighters and their families, around 1,000 people in total, was expected to begin in 2-3 days.

“The postponement is for logistical reasons, to do with the safe arrival of the armed groups who will leave al Waer,” Barazi said.

Opposition groups in Syria have said they are against this and other such evacuations. Last month a similar agreement resulted in the effective surrender of the insurgent-held Damascus suburb of Daraya to the government.

An opposition activist in al-Waer, Osama Abu Zaid, told Reuters on Monday a negotiations committee there agreed with the government last year that the United Nations would be present for this evacuation. People refused to evacuate otherwise.

“We have no trust in the regime,” Abu Zeid said. “That’s why people won’t leave.”

Overnight the Syrian military declared a one-week truce brokered by the United States and Russia over and Syrian or Russian aircraft struck an aid convoy near Aleppo.

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