Hundreds leave Syria rebel district under deal: State media

Gunmen carry their weapons and wait to board buses out of Waer, on April 1, 2017.
Gunmen carry their weapons and wait to board buses out of Waer, on April 1, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

DAMASCUS (AFP) - Hundreds more Syrian rebels and their families left the last opposition-held neighbourhood of the central city of Homs on Saturday (April 8), Syria's state news agency said.

Sana reported that at least 242 rebels had left Waer along with their families under a deal granting them safe passage to opposition-held territory elsewhere in the country.

Homs provincial governor Talal Barazi told Sana up to 400 rebels and their relatives were expected to leave by the end of the day, with evacuations continuing each week until the end of the month.

Saturday's evacuations were the fourth batch of rebel departures from Waer under a Russian-supervised deal to bring all of Homs city under government control.

The agreement reached in early February followed an earlier deal that stalled after a series of evacuations.

It calls for Russian forces, in Syria to back President Bashar al-Assad's government, to enter Waer after the evacuations to guarantee the safety of remaining civilians.

Those leaving are headed to rebel-held territory elsewhere in Homs province, or to Idlib in northwest Syria and Jarabulus in northern Aleppo province.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, estimates that a total of 12,000 people, 2,500 of them rebels, will leave under the deal.

Elsewhere in Homs province on Saturday, a blast on board a bus killed a woman and wounded 25 people, state media said.

It said the blast hit the bus in Hassia, around 30km south of Homs city.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.