Syria : Militants give up arms under Homs evacuation deal

Militants around Syria’s third city of Homs have begun surrendering their weapons to the government and Russian forces as part of an evacuation deal with Damascus.

Friday marked the second day the militants were handing over their arms as part of the deal. Around 1,650 people, including militants and civilians, were bussed out on Thursday and reached northern Syria the following morning.

“The fighters are handing over their heavy and intermediate weapons to Russian and regime forces for the second consecutive day,” the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

It included artillery and machine guns, said Rami Abdel-Rahman, the head of the London-based observatory.

Militants and civilians will be granted safe passage to the town of Jarabulus in Aleppo Province, and the neighboring province of Idlib.

The Moscow-brokered deal came about on Wednesday, when militants agreed to disarm and return the towns of Houla, Rastan, and Talbiseh and the villages around them to government control.

The deal also provided for the return of government institutions to the three towns and the reopening of a key highway that runs from the capital Damascus, through Homs, and onto second city Aleppo, in the north.

Syria’s government and Takfiri militants clinch an agreement enabling the latter’s evacuation from an enclave north of the western Syrian city of Homs.

Russia-mediated agreements have resulted in the restoration of government rule over vast expanses of the country, while allowing thousands-strong civilian evacuations from conflict zones.

Moscow has been lending anti-terror support to Damascus since late 2015.

Another evacuation deal was underway on Friday in militant-held areas south of the capital.

SANA reported buses were entering the towns of Yalda, Babila, and Beit Saham to take opposition fighters and civilians north to militant territory.

Jaish al-Izza, one terrorist group present in the Homs zone, has said it rejects the agreement and pledged to remain deployed on its front lines.

By Africafrique and agencies

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