Syrian rebels pull out of Homs

Syrian rebels pull out of Homs

Hundreds of Syrian rebels are pulling out of the besieged city of Homs, as part of a ceasefire deal with government forces.

The city has long been at the centre of the uprising against President Bashar al Assad, but now armed opposition fighters are being bussed out of town under UN supervision.

There are no winners in this war, and even amid the newfound peace there are no celebrations.

The conflict in Syria hasn't ended but for Homs, at least, it's been bussed north to the rebel held areas of the Hama and Idlib provinces.

Four-hundred rebels and their families have chosen to take their fight elsewhere, another 2000 will stay.

Hom's governor, Talal al Bazari, described the evacuees as ‘extreme militants’. Other armed personnel, he says, will hand over their arms according to the reconciliation deal, be forgiven and live a normal life.

Nearly five years ago Homs was the cradle of the uprising against Syria’s President Assad. For the past two years the city's been under siege as government forces methodically took back control.

Al Waer was the last remaining suburb left in rebel hands, until this week.

Human rights groups have been critical of the Assad regime's heavy bombing campaign, calling it enforced surrender.

But under this deal, rebel detainees will be freed from government jails, and food supplies and aid convoys will be allowed to enter al-Waer. Government institutions will also be re-established and infrastructure rebuilt.

The United Nations is presiding over the deal, which was agreed directly between the government and the rebels.

In October, Syrian peace talks in Vienna saw world powers calling for a nationwide ceasefire. But the Homs deal is now seen by many as being the most effective way of gradually bringing peace to a country where more than 250,000 people have already been killed and millions more displaced.

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