Homs void of Syrian opposition as last group of rebels left

Rebel fighters carry their weapons and belongings, as rebel fighters and their families evacuate the besieged Waer district in the central Syrian city of Homs, after an agreement was reached between rebels and Syria’s army, Syria May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Hundreds of Syrian rebels and their families left the last opposition-held district of Homs on Sunday, completing a deal that brought the whole city back under President Bashar al-Assad’s control for the first time since the start of the war, Reuters reported.

Homs Governor Talal Barazi said “the city of Homs is completely clear of weapons and militants after completing the reconciliation deal in al-Waer district,” Syrian state TV reported.

Reuters added that Government forces backed by the Russian military have already moved into many areas of al-Waer, state media say.

Some 700 fighters and their families, a total of nearly 3,000 people according to Barazi, left aboard buses on Saturday and Sunday in the final phase of the evacuation of insurgents from al-Waer. Government troops had long besieged the last opposition-held area in a city that was one of the early centers of the anti-Assad uprising, according to Reuters.

Thousands of opposition fighters and their families have left a number of areas in western Syria in recent months in what the government calls reconciliation deals. Assad’s government now controls the country’s main urban centers, added Reuters.

Reuters indicated that the opposition and the United Nations have criticized the deals as forced displacement of Assad’s enemies, often after months or years of siege and bombardment.

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