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Homs evacuation operation extended until Wednesday night - UN

10 February 2014, 22:04

The United Nations has said an operation to allow civilians to leave besieged districts of the Syrian city of Homs will be extended until Wednesday night.

The announcement on Monday was welcomed by UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, and follows a successful but difficult three-day operation to allow civilians to leave Homs, with gunfire and attacks frustrating progress.

300 people evacuated from Syria's Homs - Red Cross

Three hundred people were evacuated Monday from army-besieged districts of Syria's Homs in the fourth day of a humanitarian operation, the Syrian Red Crescent said via Twitter. 'Group of around 300 people have been evacuated just now from old city Homs,' said the humanitarian organisation.

The latest evacuations bring the total number of civilians given safe passage out of the war-ravaged central part of the city up to some 1,000 since Friday.

Rebel neighbourhoods in Homs, Syria's third largest city, have been under a tight army blockade for more than 18 months, and some 3,000 people had been living on little more than olives and herbs.

According to the Syrian Red Crescent, 300 people left Monday, 'most of them... women and children.'

No truce violations were reported Monday, though 14 people, including at least three rebels, were killed in shelling on the besieged neighbourhoods on previous days.

The operation is taking place as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and rebels resume talks in Switzerland aimed at ending the nearly three-year civil war, which has killed 136,000 people and displaced millions more.

A source at the Syrian Red Crescent said discussions were still under way on whether an initial three-day truce would be extended to allow humanitarian operations to continue.

'In principle, the ceasefire will be extended, and we will try to get civilians out as soon as possible,' the source said.

An activist in Homs said a deal to extend the truce by another 72 hours had been reached, but there was no immediate official confirmation.

The first days of the operation saw some 700 civilians evacuated, with Red Crescent volunteers helping elderly women and men aboard buses waiting to take them away.

On Saturday, the Red Crescent was able to deliver 250 food parcels, along with hygiene kits and medicine, despite its vehicles being fired upon. One driver was wounded.

Mortar fire was also reported during the delivery.

Some 3,000 people are believed to be trapped in the besieged parts of Homs, with new mothers reportedly unable to breastfeed because of malnutrition.

Voice of Russia, AFP

Source: Homs-evacuation-operation-extended- until-Wednesday-night-UN-8438/

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