Syrian rebels and families start leaving Homs

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Syrian rebels and their families are leaving their last remaining stronghold in the city of Homs, under a Russian-backed evacuation deal. Their departure, after intense negotiations, involves the movement of more than 1,500 people to the northeastern region of Aleppo under the supervision of the Red Crescent and the military police of Syria and Russian Federation. "This agreement was reached only under the patronage of the Russian side ... and it will be implemented with Russian guarantees", he said.

In 2011 the violent repression of demonstrations in many Homs neighbourhoods calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down from power lead thousands to seek refuge in al-Waer.

Some 1,500 fighters and civilians aboard 40 buses left Waer, the last opposition-held district in Homs, to Jarabulus in northern Syria, the sources said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to media.

Sources with the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say at least 10 buses entered the neighborhood.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent, along with Russian and Syrian authorities, are supervising the Al-Waer evacuation.

The government has reached reconciliation deals for several rebel-held areas, and claims such agreements that grant safe passage to surrendering fighters are key to ending six years of war.

But the opposition decries them as a tactic of forcibly displacing people who oppose Mr Assad after years of bombardment and siege.

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"The preparations and the reality on the ground indicate that things will go well", the governor stressed.

"We are optimistic that the full exit of armed [fighters] from this district will pave the way for other reconciliations and settlements", he said. Last month, a United Nations convoy was seized by gunmen who diverted the assistance to a government-held area.

Al-Wair, on the western outskirts, is the last rebel-held district.

They are expected to leave their homes in Al Waer neighhbourhood as part of an evacuation deal with the government.

He added that he had not expected anything from Geneva, where UN-led peace talks ended this month with no breakthrough.

Militants and civilians have poured into Idlib at an accelerating rate over the previous year, bussed out of other parts of western Syria that the government and allied forces recaptured from rebels.

More groups of fighters and civilians are expected to leave the district in the next two months.

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