Last Homs residents leave 'heart of the Syrian revolution'

Last Homs residents leave 'heart of the Syrian revolution'
Besieged al-Waer stood as the Syrian rebel's last stronghold in Homs through six years of war. Today, the last fighters and families leave their homes behind.
2 min read
20 May, 2017
Some al-Waer residents made into to Idlib where they were reunited with loved ones [Anadolu]
Hundreds of Syrian rebels and civilians left the last opposition stronghold in Homs city on Saturday, ending a six-year fight by the disctrict against regime forces.

The final phase of the population transfer from al-Waer will take place today, and will see the last 2,500 residents leave the Homs' district for opposition areas in northern Syria.

Buses arrived to ship away the last rebel fighters and civilians in al-Waer, which has been described as the "heart of the Syrian revolution" standing strong through six years of bombardment and siege by surrounding regime forces.

It is one of the largest population displacements of its kind in Syria, and part of controversial local deals which has seen rebel enclaves emptied of their populations in return for safe passage to opposition-held Idlib and Turkey.

Critics argue that the agreements are a form of ethnic cleansing, and that civilians were effectively starved into submission.

Once the displacements are completed, almost 20,000 people would have left the beseiged district which saw immense suffering during the siege.
Russia has acted as a guarantor for the deal between Damascus and rebels, with Moscow's military police acting as observers during the population transfer.

It marks a sad end for the city, which was once described the capital of the Syrian revolution.

Homs saw huge anti-regime protests in 2011, with rebel fighters taking over large parts of the city, while lively demonstrations beside Homs' famous clock tower took place daily.
Regime forces have managed to win back large part of central Syria, along with east Aleppo in the north - another rebel enclave which was subject to a fierce bombardment until the remaining civilians and fighters left the district.

Over half a million lives have been lost in the six-year war, the vast majority of the victims believed to be civilians killed in regime bombardments.