After many negotiations, the Syrian rebel presence in Homs has come to an end. The city, once known as the capital of the revolution and peaceful pro-democracy protests, is now under the control of Syrian troops. Rebels cheered as they left, but the fall of Syria’s third largest city is a major blow to the opposition and a huge victory for the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad weeks before the elections.
That is one way to see it. Other ways might be as a victory for the people of Homs, who finally got some relief from a brutal siege, and as a possible model of the incremental, painstaking and localised diplomacy required to bring relief to Syrians in war zones, especially gives the collapse of the Geneva process.
As troops moved in to clear the Old City or explosives, hundreds of civilians began returning to see what remained of their homes in a Christian district within the area that had been under nearly daily bombardment during a two-year drive by Assad’s forces. Many were however shocked, with tears in their eyes, as they climber over debris to inspect the ruins.
In Syria, we are dealing with a conflict where 150,000 are estimated to have been killed, 2,5 million are refugees, 6,5 million are displaced, 3,5 million live in areas where aid is blocked or hindered and 240,000 live under drive.
The Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told a news conference that “we- the regime, are ready to allow any humanitarian aid to enter the city through the… arrangements made with the UN.”
In the city itself, however, opposition activists said rebels demanded a complete end to the blockade and opposed a limited ceasefire.
At least 1,630 people, mostly rebels, had already left under the landmark deal, which also saw opposition fighters elsewhere in the war-torn country release dozens of women, children and soldiers taken hostage months earlier.
This is not the first deal between the government and the rebels, as a number of ceasefire have been agreed on the outskirts of Damascus. But it is the first time that rebel fighters have withdrawn from an area they controlled after an accord.
The rebel pullout comes less than a month before a controversial presidential election, described as a farce by Western governments and the opposition, that is expected to return Assad to office.
– Al Monitor: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/syria-lessons-from-homs-aleppo.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=85cd16b5f9-Week_In_Review_12_5_20145_11_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-85cd16b5f9-102320929
– Euro News: http://www.euronews.com/2014/05/08/syrian-forces-retake-control-of-homs-as-rebels-exit/
– News 24: http://www.news24.com/World/News/Syria-Homs-rebels-relieved-after-exit-20140514
– Yahoo news: http://news.yahoo.com/Syria-rebels-blow-Aleppo-hotel-turned-army-101026653.html
– Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/26/us-Syria-crisis-idUSBREA0N0L520140126