Insurgents in the Syrian city of Homs and the Syrian government have reached a deal Tuesday returning state control to Homs for the first time since 2011, the Associated Press reports.
The neighborhood of Waer was the last area in Homs under rebel control. According to opposition activist Bebars al-Talawy the 3,200 or so fighters who will leave the Waer to other insurgent controlled areas in Syria were from 45 separate factions, a major one being al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra front.
Homs was one of the first cities to rise up against the Assad regime and was known as the “Capital of the Revolution.” The government has been gradually taking back control of it, this deal is similar to a May 2014 one in which 1,200 rebels left a central Homs neighborhood. This is an another victory for the Syrian government coming weeks after the regime regained control of Kuweires airbase.
The Homs area also was recently barrel-bombed bombed by Syria Saturday wounding 47, almost half of which were women and children. Doctors Without Borders said, “As the bombings continued and caused damage to the hospital, many of these patients had to be moved to other hospitals and five people died in transit.”
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has denied the killing of civilians telling Paris Match in a recent interview, “There’s no reason to shell civilians. If we are killing civilians…how could we stand for four years? If we haven’t been defending the people, we wouldn’t have been able to stand all this pressure.”
On Monday it was reported by Syrian state news agency SANA that the Damascus neighborhood of Qudsaya was returned to government control after some 100 rebels agreed to leave the area. The Syrian Army last week recovered control of 1400 square kilometers in Al-Hasakah. It has been reported that this Syrian Army now consists of Iranian soldiers, Hezbollah, and various shia militias as manpower problems have caused a depletion in forces.
A US official said Tuesday that the amount of special operations forces in Iraq and Syria deployed to battle ISIL has increased from 50 to 200.