Syrian rebels begin moving out of Homs

The withdrawal of more than 1,000 fighters from Homs is part of a complex deal with President Bashar al-Assad's government which also involves easing a rebel siege on two northern pro-government towns

An operation to evacuate rebel-held areas of the Syrian city of Homs of fighters and civilians started on Wednesday, a rebel negotiator said.

 

"Three buses have left, carrying 120 people in total, a mixture of wounded and non-wounded civilians and fighters," Abul Hareth al-Khalidi told AFP via the Internet.

 

The withdrawal of more than 1,000 fighters from Homs is part of a complex deal with President Bashar al-Assad's government which also involves easing a rebel siege on two northern pro-government towns.

 

It will also mark the end of any rebel presence in the heart of a city once called the "capital of the revolution" against Assad, handing the president a major symbolic victory less than a month before he is likely to be elected for a third term.

 

A picture uploaded on the Internet showed two green buses driving through the dusty ruins of central Homs towards a collection point for the withdrawing rebel fighters.

 

Their departure would be staged over several phases, coordinated with the evacuation of Nubl and al-Zahraa of some residents in northern Syria, and the entry of humanitarian aid into those two towns.

 

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