Evacuation process of rebel fighters and civilians from Waer district, western Homs, Syria on March 18, 2017. Photo: AA
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Under a Russian-backed deal brokered between the Syrian regime and opposition, the first group of civilian and rebel fighters have left the city of Homs, state-run SANA news agency reported.
More than 1,500 opposition fighters and civilians left the last position-held district of Waer in Homs on 40 buses on Saturday and they will be transported to the northeastern edge of Aleppo province, Governor of Homs, Talal al-Barazi, has told the media outlet.
Meanwhile, al-Barazi has told Reuters that “the preparations and the reality on the ground indicate that things will go well."
He has also said the process of the evacuation of armed groups and their families "will pave the way for other reconciliations and settlements."
Al-Barrazi had earlier told AP, once the evacuation of the first group has concluded, food and aid supplies are expected to arrive in the troubled neighborhood and the people who had fled the neighborhood long ago will return to the district together with government institutions.
For four years now, the troubled Waer district has been besieged by the Syrian regime.
According to Turkish Anadolu agency, citing local sources, 20,000 have registered their names to leave and seek shelter in once ISIS-ruled city of Jarablous city near Turkey's border.
Homs is home to 75,000 residents.
Anadolu also stated that it is expected 12,000 will be transferred to Aleppo, 6,200 to Idlib and 2,400 will be relocated in Homs.
Under a similar deal, the eastern side of Aleppo, the country’s second largest city was completely brought under control by the Bashar al-Assad’s government after a ceasfire was declared in late December, 2016.
March 15 marked the sixth anniversary of the start of the civil war in Syria.
According to UN figures, the war has created 4.9 million refugees, 6.3 million internally displaced, and millions more living in daily fear. An estimated at least 400,000 have been killed.