Syrian Rebels Begin Evacuating Homs Enclave

Syrian rebels and their families have begun evacuating al-Wair, their last remaining enclave of Homs, as part of a long-delayed evacuation agreement. Homs Governor Talal Barazi said about 1,500 people will leave the area and head to Aleppo on Saturday, and the opposition Homs Media Center estimates that up to 15,000 people will leave in the next few weeks as part of the Russian-backed evacuation deal. The deal was reached in December 2015, but its implementation had been halted repeatedly. The Syrian regime has described the deal as a crucial step to “reconciliation,” though rebel forces say they were forced to agree to the terms to avoid bombardment. Al-Wair, home to about 75,000 people, was the last rebel-held district on the outskirts of Homs after a government siege of the city in 2014 sent rebel forces fleeing to surrounding areas.