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Rebels evacuated from Homs neighborhood - cnn.demo.robotrailer.com

In Syrian city of Homs, an orderly evacuation of rebels

Story highlights

  • The fighters and their families are headed to the Aleppo countryside
  • Russians are among those supervising the evacuation

(CNN)The evacuation of a rebel enclave in the Syrian city of Homs started Saturday.

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency is reporting that the first batch of "gunmen and their families" are leaving the city's Al-Waer neighborhood.
    Al-Waer was the last opposition pocket in the city of Homs, and this signifies the end of another rebel enclave that has endured some of the worst bombardment and attacks.
    Known as "reconciliation agreements," this is one of the Syrian government's local pacts that allow surrendering civilians and fighters to evacuate to other rebel-held regions.
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    The initiatives are designed to help put an end to the country's long-running civil war and reestablish stability in what were war zones.
    Critics and opposition have described this as forcible displacement that is part of what they call the government's "starve or surrender," where rebel-held areas are besieged and bombarded until deals like this are reached.
    In recent weeks, there have been reports of intensive bombardment of the area.

    Russian supervision

    The Syrian Arab Red Crescent, along with Russian and Syrian authorities, are supervising the Al-Waer evacuation. The Al-Waer reconciliation agreement was reached last week, state media said. Russia is an ally of Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime.
    The Homs Media Center, an activist group, is reporting that 2,000 residents including 400 rebel fighters have left Al-Waer and are heading to Jarablus in the Aleppo countryside.
    Sources with the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say at least 10 buses entered the neighborhood.
    The reconciliation agreement comes as Syria enters the seventh war of its conflict and as the capital of Damascus endured deadly attacks in recent days, one at a courthouse and another targeting Iraqi Shiite pilgrims near a historic cemetery.