Friday, May 2, 2014

Syrian forces poised to recapture Homs after truce agreed with rebels

    Friday, May 02, 2014   No comments

48-hour ceasefire will allow hundreds of rebel fighters blockaded in old quarters of city to flee north, activists say

Syria's government and rebels have agreed to a ceasefire in Homs to allow hundreds of fighters holed up in the old quarters of the city to leave – a deal that will bring the country's third-largest city under the control of forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad.

If the agreement holds, the capture of the city will be a significant victory for Assad weeks before presidential elections set for 3 June.

Homs, in the central western plains of Syria, was one of the first cities to rise up against Assad's rule three years ago, earning it the nickname of the "capital of the revolution". After waves of protests, it was the first city to be largely taken over by armed rebels as the uprising evolved into outright civil war.

Assad's forces have been engaged in gruelling urban warfare trying to wrest Homs back. For the past months, rebels were isolated and blockaded in neighbourhoods centred on the historic old quarters, battered by heavy government air strikes and artillery.

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