Syria Conflict: UN Hopes To Resume Homs Evacuation
Aid agencies are hoping to resume the evacuation of civilians from Syria’s besieged city of Homs, a day after the operation was suspended.UN local aid chief Yacoub El Hillo told the BBC it was “crucial” that the operation continued, describing his visit to Homs as like a “day in hell”.
Hundreds of civilians remain trapped in the Old City – a hub of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
More than 1,100 people have fled the city since Friday under a truce.
The BBC’s Lyse Doucet, in Homs, says discussions went on all day on Tuesday on how to continue the evacuations, and how to bring more food and medicine into the Old City.
But she says the longer the operation goes on, the more it seems to expose the divides in Syria.
Meanwhile, little progress was reported on the second day of talks on Tuesday between Syrian government and opposition delegations in Geneva, Switzerland.
‘Weeding out terrorists’
Government troops have besieged the Old City of Homs for 18 months.
Evacuations over the weekend were facilitated by a three-day truce, which was extended until Wednesday.
But the operation was delayed on Tuesday because of what UN and Syrian officials said were logistical reasons.
Homs governor Talal Barazi said the temporary truce could be extended further if necessary.
UN agencies have expressed concern over the fate of dozens of men who were taken in by Syrian security personnel after they fled Homs.
UN rights spokesman Rupert Colville said it was “essential that they do not come to any harm”.
The detainees were being held at an abandoned school, the UN said.
Mr Barazi said 111 men had been questioned and released, while 190 others were still being held.
“I just want to say I hope that that the bigger percentage will all be released,” he told the BBC.
“They are living in a shelter in very good conditions. They have all the services, health, medical services and they are all secure.”
The Syrian authorities said the screening was necessary to weed out “terrorists”.
In Geneva, Syrian government and opposition negotiators met face-to-face on Tuesday.
But UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said there had not been very much progress so far.
“The beginning of this week is as laborious as it was in the first week,” he told a news conference in Geneva.
The first round ended last month with no firm agreements and both sides trading insults.
The opposition wants the government to commit in writing to the 2012 Geneva Communique, which called for the formation of a transitional administration with full executive authority.
President Assad’s government has ruled out any transfer of power.
At the UN in New York, Western nations are trying to frame a Security Council resolution that would call on all sides to allow aid workers access in Syria.
But Russia on Wednesday renewed its opposition to the proposed text, saying it was a pretext for a military action.
Moscow is apparently preparing its own draft resolution calling for an end to terrorism in Syria.
The civil conflict has claimed more than 100,000 lives since 2011 and has driven 9.5 million people from their homes.