As part of a brokered cease-fire between the Syrian rebels and the Assad government, some 2,000 opposition fighters in Homs will depart the city. The BBC reports:
The BBC’s Paul Wood in Beirut says the rebel fighters and their families were sad and bitter as they said goodbye to a place they swore they would never leave.They buckled finally, our correspondent adds, after the government’s forces employed the tactic of what some Syrian army officers called “surrender or starve”.“The rest of the world failed us,” one activist told the BBC as he prepared to leave.
A video shows what appear to be rebels boarding a green bus, led by police in body armor. Another shows a caravan of the same buses, their window blinds down, driving down a road that apparently leads out of the city. While parts of the opposition are opposed to the deal, mainly the hardline Islamists, it appears that most of the rebels in Homs are going along with the evacuation, however begrudgingly. Under the agreement, rebels will also release prisoners in Aleppo and Latakia, and allow aid into pro-Assad towns under siege by the opposition.Homs has been a major front in Syria’s civil war. The city was one of the first areas to see protests during the 2011 uprising. A 2012 attack on Baba Amr in southeastern Homs marked the first use of heavy artillery by the government. For three years rebels have controlled most of Homs. But a government blockade on food and aid into Homs seems to have been the final straw for the rebels there.The regime is touting the deal as proof that it has the upper hand and can bring the chaos under control. The Syrian Tourism Minister even forecast a “prosperous tourist season” yesterday. Next month, the country will have Presidential elections. Assad’s fate is still an open question. But no one can deny that after so much blood spilt over Homs, its loss will be a hard hit to morale for the opposition.