Homs’ Displaced Arrive in Idleb Following Cease Fire Deal

Residents of al-Waer leave rebel-held areas of Homs for Idleb under truce deal with regime negotiators

A number of displaced people from the neighborhood of al-Waer arrived in the city of Idleb on December 12, after fighters from the neighborhood reached a truce with regime forces in the city of Homs.

A wounded man from the neighborhood told Madar al-Youm: "We left the neighborhood due to the lack of care and medical supplies, so we decided to move to the city of Idleb to complete the necessary treatment."

Umm Mohammed said locals left the neighborhood after years of suffering from a shortage of all living necessities. "We used to rely on small agricultural areas in the neighborhood in order to prepare food. But there were other needs too, and the substantial rise in food prices finally forced us to give up."

According to sources inside the neighborhood, the agreement was reached after a meeting between officials in Assad's regime and notables from the neighborhood. The sources added that the regime’s negotiating team was headed by General Intelligence Division chief, Deeb Zeitoun, the Governor of Homs, Talal Barazi, UN Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs Yacoub El Hilo, and Khawla Mattar, spokesperson for the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura.

The sources pointed out that the terms of the truce included: "a full cease fire between the two sides during the truce period, the opening of crossings to facilitate the movement of civilians into and out of the neighborhood, the allowance of humanitarian organizations to provide various urgent humanitarian assistance to the neighborhood, and finally, opening the Justice Palace in the second phase of the agreement."

The terms also included: "providing a list of detainees from the city of Homs (about 5,000 detainees). The agreement states detainees will be released in exchange for giving up a small portion of rebels' weapons. As for those who refuse the agreement, they will be allowed to leave the neighborhood, most probably to the countryside of Hama or the countryside of Idleb," according to the same sources.

The official United Nations contact in the neighborhood, Mohammed al-Homsi, said the rebels agreed to this truce because the neighborhood had entered a real humanitarian crisis due to regime's dirty policy of reducing the number of bread bags entering the area, causing the neighborhood to suffer from a real food disaster.

Homsi denied the rumors promoted by the regime about the departure of large numbers of rebels, or about the regime's army taking full control over the neighborhood.

Private sources familiar with the negotiations said there were disagreements among regime officials on the details of the truce, especially the officials of security branches who refused the idea of reaching a truce.

The sources noted that the regime's security negotiating team was divided into three groups, with the first including “Alawite militants" who hoped to destroy the neighborhood altogether, the second comprised Shiite militias who wanted to storm the neighborhood and alter its demography through settling Shiites citizens in the houses of those who would leave the neighborhood, while the third group included the regime's "security branches" who wanted the rebels to leave the neighborhood in order for the regime's army to restore its full control over it.

The regime's political team has since warmed to de Mistura's proposals as they see the truce in al-Waer as a model that can be marketed as a political solution to end the Syrian crisis, through dividing the country into regions, and reaching agreements and truces ahead of the third Geneva conference.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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