CAIRO – The departure of combatants and civilians from the district of al-Waer, the only besieged neighborhood in Syria’s central city of Homs, will take place over two months following the first round of evacuation on Saturday, an opposition source told EFE on Monday.
The president of the opposition Free Homs Province Council, Amir Abdel-Qader, explained by telephone that between 15,000-20,000 people are expected to leave the area, surrounded by government troops, to areas under the control of the insurgents.
On Saturday, 5 percent of the fighters and civilians who had applied to be evacuated from al-Waer were able to leave, and in the coming weeks, there will be about seven or eight batches, Abdel-Qader said.
Two days ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the evacuation of 1,500 civilians and rebels from al-Waer.
Abdel-Qader said that people leaving the district will go to areas under insurgent rule in the northern provinces of Aleppo and Idleb, as well as north of the region of Homs.
He said that residents of al-Waer have been forced to accept the agreement with the authorities, which was sponsored by Russia, because conditions are very bad.
He added that there are no medicines and residents depend on the aid of the United Nations and the Red Crescent humanitarian convoys, although in the last weeks none has entered.
Besides, there are no services, such as water or electricity.
Al-Waer is the only neighborhood left in opposition hands in Homs, although in December 2016 there was an evacuation of more than 700 people, fighters and civilians, following a pact between local rebels and the authorities.
Since then, there have been several attempts at negotiations to complete the evacuation, which have never ended successfully.
Al-Waer, which is located in the north-west of Homs, has been besieged since November 2013 and is estimated to have a population of more than 75,000 people.