Hundreds of Syrian Rebels Evacuate Homs After Reconciliation Deal


Syrian rebels and their families left the last opposition-held district of the city of Homs on Sunday, after the implementation of a reconciliation deal that will put the city back under the control of the Assad government.

“The city of Homs is completely clear of weapons and militants after completing the reconciliation deal in al-Waer district,” Homs Governor Talal Barazi said, according to Syrian state media.

Government forces supported by the Russian military have moved in to many areas in al-Waer, a district in Northwestern Homs, to oversee the evacuation.

Some of the evacuating rebels were unhappy with the terms of the agreement, but say that have no choice but to leave.

“These are people that have not accepted the terms of the national reconciliation movement,” said Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom, who spoke to some of the rebels.

“They say that these terms are being imposed on them by the Syrian regime, by the Russians, by their Iranian allies as well.”

The deal is the fourth phase of an agreement reached last year that also saw the evacuation of 14,000 people in its prior stages, 3,700 of them rebels, allowed to leave with their light weapons.

Some 700 fighters, 3,000 people including their families, left Homs in buses on Saturday and Sunday.

“There is a deliberate strategy from the Syrian government in terms of retaking some of these areas is that they lay a siege on the area preventing all kinds of supplies from getting in, including food, medical supplies etc and then they indiscriminately attack these areas,” Ole Solvang, deputy director of emergencies at Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera last month.

Others among the fighters, however, wanted to leave the city.

“I don’t want to stay here. I’ll go to Idlib, and want to go on to Turkey and then Europe after that,” one fighter told Reuters without giving his name.

Despite the criticism from the opposition and some monitor groups, the reconciliation agreement marks a significant deescalation in violence in a brutal war that’s killed hundreds of thousands of people since 2011. The year-long siege on Homs is finally over.

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