Syrian rebels, civilians leave Homs after deal with regime

Up to 15,000 people are expected to leave the city over the next couple of weeks, making this the largest evacuation plan of its kind in Syria since the start of the war.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Syrian rebels and their families began leaving the rebel-held al Wair neighbourhood in Homs, Syira under an evacuation deal on March 18, 2017.

Updated Mar 29, 2017

Thousands of rebels and their families are leaving the last remaining rebel enclave in the Syrian city of Homs on Saturday, under a Russian-backed evacuation deal to handover territory to the regime.

Once completed, it would mark the biggest evacuation during the war out of one Syrian district, which is home to about 40,000 civilians.

In a new deal reached last week, the sides agreed that up to 100 Russian troops would deploy inside the district to oversee the final phase of evacuations.

Up to 1,500 people have already left the last rebel bastion and between 10,000 and 15,000 more are expected to leave in batches over the coming weeks.

Over the weekend, several buses drove out of the al Wair district which was an early centre of the 2011 uprising against regime leader Assad.

They will be bussed out of Homs to Jarablus, an area in northern Syria on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Hundreds have previously left al Wair district under a deal reached between rebel and regime representatives in December 2015, but subsequent evacuations stalled.

TRT World 's Ediz Tiyansan reports from Jarablus in Syria.

Regime air strikes on al Wair

The regime says such "reconciliation" deals, which have been agreed in several rebel-held areas, are key to ending the six-year civil war.

But the Britain-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said regime forces had stepped up their bombardment of the district and killed dozens of civilians over the past month.

The regime also blocked humanitarian aid into the district.

A UN convoy trying to gain access to the district in February, was seized by gunmen who diverted the assistance to a regime-held area, the group said.

TRTWorld and agencies