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  Rare Syrian evacuation as blasts hit Homs

Rare Syrian evacuation as blasts hit Homs

Published : Dec 29, 2015, 6:05 am IST
Updated : Dec 29, 2015, 6:05 am IST

A rare UN-backed deal between Syria’s warring sides saw hundreds of fighters and civilians evacuate three towns on Monday, as bomb blasts in the regime-held city of Homs killed at least 19 people.

A rare UN-backed deal between Syria’s warring sides saw hundreds of fighters and civilians evacuate three towns on Monday, as bomb blasts in the regime-held city of Homs killed at least 19 people.

President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has agreed to several ceasefires with rebel groups in the past but Monday’s evacuation plan was one of the most elaborate in the nearly five-year war.

 

The United Nations has been pushing for such local deals as global powers pursue wider efforts to resolve a conflict that left more than 250,000 dead and forced millions from their homes.

More than 450 fighters and civilians, including the wounded, began leaving three flashpoint areas in Syria as part of a six-month truce reached in September.

At least 120 people, including rebels and some civilians, crossed from the last rebel bastion on the Syrian border into Lebanese territory on Monday, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

The Zabadani residents were to fly from Beirut to Turkey, before travelling back into opposition-held areas in Syria, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

 

Another 335 people, also including civilians, travelled from two regime-controlled villages in north-western Syria into Turkey on Monday, Abdel Rahman said.

Residents of the mainly Shia villages of Fuaa and Kafraya crossed through the Bab al-Hawa border point and are to fly into Beirut to travel overland to Damascus.

According to a source close to the negotiations, national flag carrier Turkish Airlines will fly both sets of evacuees.

“We appreciate the cooperation of all sides, of the Syrian, Turkish, and Lebanese governments, and all the sides that have signed on to this humanitarian agreement,” said UN humanitarian coordinator Yaacoub El Hillo in comments to Al-Mayadeen TV from the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon.

 

Location: Syria, Damascus