Last group of militants evacuate key district in Syria's Homs
Iran Press TV
Sun May 21, 2017 3:12PM
The last buses transporting foreign-backed militants and their families have evacuated a district in Syria's Homs, bringing the entire city back under the control of the government.
Several hundred militants left on Sunday in the final phase of the evacuation of Waer district from militants. The district was the last held by militants in the central province of Homs.
Syrian TV channels showed militants milling around, depositing bags and suitcases in front of buses, and holding Kalashnikov assault rifles.
Talal Barazi, the Homs governor, confirmed that "Waer will be empty of all militants and weapons" in the coming hours.
He said over 700 militants would have left by the end of the final phase on Sunday, as well as at least 1,000 other people, including their family members.
The figure brings to over 14,000 the total number of people who have left Waer in several phases since an agreement between the government and militants began to be implemented in March. Among the people were some 3,700 militants, who were allowed to leave with their light weapons.
Barazi said some 1,150 militants have decided to stay in the district and hand over their weapons under an amnesty by the Syrian government.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier said that up to 20,000 people will have left the district by the time the agreement is fully implemented.
A Russian officer told local Syrian media outlets that Syrian government forces backed by Russian military police had begun to take control of key parts of the district.
The evacuation of Waer is one of the largest of its kind. It follows a number of similar deals in recent months that have brought many parts of western Syria under the control of the government.
Last December, several thousand civilians were allowed to leave Foua and Kefraya under a separate deal between armed groups and Damascus. The agreement also enabled the evacuation of a militant-held enclave in eastern Aleppo.
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