Nearly 300 rebels start evacuating last stronghold in Syria’s Homs city

Xinhua
Published on December 9,2015

DAMASCUS, A total of 274 members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front started evacuating the last rebel stronghold inside the central Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday, under a deal recently concluded with the Syrian government and supervised by the United Nations, a Syrian official said.

Some 174 al-Nusra militants with their light weapons, 100 others unarmed, as well as 450 civilians, who are families of the Nusra militants, mounted green buses at the entrance to the district of al-Waer, west of Homs, and prepared to set off toward northern Syria, Homs governor Talal Barazi told reporters at the site.

Barazi said those who are being evacuated first were rebels from al-Nusra, who refused to accept a truce with government troops in al-Waer, a sprawling district that contains several government institutions.

He said as many as 2,000 rebels inside al-Waer have chosen to remain in the district, but to reconcile with the government.

Barazi said the evacuation of rebels and the processing of records of others who wanted to stay could take several weeks and that after the full implementation of the deal, Homs will be rebel-free and al-Waer will gradually return to government control.

Earlier in the day, a source told Xinhua that a convoy of buses and ambulances entered the al-Waer neighborhood to transport the first batch of rebels and their families from the sprawling neighborhood to the northwestern province of Idlib, one of the most prominent strongholds for the militants.

“The armed men started getting on the buses in accordance with a list of names the rebels handed over to the UN representatives and the Syrian authorities earlier,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

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