UN, Syrian government reach agreement over besieged Homs

A Syrian man looks for herbs to eat with his family in the heavily damaged neighborhood of Juret al-Shiyah in the central Syrian city of Homs on February 1, 2014. (Photo: AFP)

Published Thursday, February 6, 2014

Updated at 3:45pm: The United Nations and Syria have reached a deal to allow civilians to leave areas of Homs under army siege for more than 18 months, the city's governor said Thursday.

"The governor of Homs, Talal Barazi, told (state news agency) SANA that a deal has been secured with the United Nations, under which civilians will be guaranteed an exit from the Old City neighborhoods very soon," the agency reported.

Russia had announced earlier during the day that the Syrian government and rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad had reached an agreement on allowing humanitarian aid to reach Homs.

"The issue of humanitarian access to the old city of Homs is being discussed," foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a news conference.

"Judging by the latest information, it appears that such an agreement between the opposition and the government has already been reached," he said without giving more detail.

The announcement comes as a pro-opposition NGO said that more than 200 people have been killed by barrel bombs in Aleppo.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 257 people, including 73 children, were killed by government forces using barrel bombs, which are typically filled with bits of scrap metal.

A video filmed by an Aleppo activist on Tuesday showed the aftermath of an alleged barrel bomb.

Accounts of violence are difficult to verify due to tight media restrictions in Syria, conflicting accounts, and the deteriorating security situation for journalists. More than 100,000 people have died in the three-year conflict.

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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