Syria's Warring Sides Reach Deal on Homs
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The Syrian government said women and children can leave besieged areas of the city of Homs in the center of the country.
The announcement came after negotiators from the warring sides discussed humanitarian gestures on a second day of face-to-face talks in the Swiss city of Geneva.
Homs, occupying a strategic location, has been a key battleground. President Bashar al-Assad's forces retook many of the surrounding areas last year, leaving rebels under siege in the city center, along with thousands of civilians.
Hundreds of families in the Old City have lived under the siege for nearly 18 months now, with frequent shelling and very limited supplies.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy, said on Sunday he understood that the women and children would be free to leave Homs immediately, Al Jazeera reported.
The Syrian authorities also agreed to allow humanitarian aid convoys in - as soon as Monday.
Faisal Maqdad, the Syrian deputy foreign minister, said after Sunday's meetings that the government would let women and children leave the city center if rebels gave them safe passage.
"If the armed terrorists in Homs allow women and children to leave the Old City of Homs, we will allow them every access," he said.
"Not only that, we will provide them with shelter, medicines and all that is needed. We are ready to allow any humanitarian aid to enter into the city through the ...arrangements made with the UN."
In Homs, however, opposition activists said rebels demanded a complete end to the blockade and opposed a limited ceasefire.
Brahimi, who presided on Saturday over the first direct meeting between the two delegations, met both together again on Sunday morning, before holding discussions with each side separately in the afternoon.