Syria: Hundreds leave Waer district in Homs

Trevor Jackson
March 19, 2017

The operation aimed at withdrawing the first group of militants and members of their families from the al-Waer neighborhood of the Syria city of Homs has been completed, Homs Governor Talal Barazi told Sputnik on Saturday.

The Syrian regime has since wrestled back complete control of Homs city - with the exception of al-Waer - and past year announced plans for ambitious rebuilding projects in several districts of the city, none of which appear to have begun. It followed earlier evacuation deals between rebels and government forces that were not fully implemented.

An estimated 50,000 people are believed to be living in al-Waer, down from about 300,000 before the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that a total of 12,000 people, 2,500 of them rebels, will leave under the deal. The evacuation is the third phase of an agreement reached previous year that saw hundreds of fighters and their families leave the area.

The Britain-based war monitor said the buses would go to the Jarablus area held by Turkey-backed rebels in the northern Aleppo countryside. Last month, a United Nations convoy was seized by gunmen who diverted the assistance to a government-held area.

Such tactics have been used by the Syrian regime in other areas - such as east Aleppo - in order to pummel and starve rebel forces and local communities into submission before negotiating settlement deals in its best interests.

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Rebel groups have been on the back foot in Syria, following Russia's intervention into the war on Assad's side, bringing its air power to bear in support of his army and its Iranian and Shi'ite militia allies.

As the Syrian military continues their offensive against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Damascus has intensified its efforts to persuade some of the rebel groups to surrender and sign reconciliation agreements.

U.S. officials said their planes struck an al-Qaeda gathering in northern Syria on Friday, killing dozens of militants.

Syrian opposition activists said around 40 people, mostly civilians, were killed in a mosque in the area.

"We targeted an Al Qaeda gathering across the street from a mosque".

Later, a Pentagon spokesman, Eric Pahon, said USA surveillance of the target area indicated evening prayers already had concluded before the attack.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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