HOMS /Syria/, March 29. /TASS/. About 530 militants in the northern suburbs of the Syrian city of Homs decided to lay down arms and return to peaceful life. All the rest will be transported to the north of the country within the next six weeks together with their family members, Governor of the Homs Province, Talal al-Barazi, told reporters.
The second stage of the withdrawal of armed units in al-Waer, a suburb in the north of the city Homs (165 kilometers away from Damascus) began earlier this week. Some militants in this area decided to take advantage of the amnesty declared by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and return to a peaceful life agreeing to be checked by the law enforcement forces.
"As the government, we tried to persuade the militants to stay here, but they did not want to do this, so they are leaving," the governor said. "About 530 of them will stay here. They are giving up their arms and will be granted full rights as ordinary people."
Several hundred militants and members of their families have left the al-Waer area and headed off to the Idlib province in northern Syria by buses. Many of them did not join militants of their own free will.
According to Syrian army Colonel, Samir Ibrahim, most of the militants are not native to this area. "They seized the village, terrorized its civilians, occupied people’s homes and settled down their relatives in them. Now, we will clean all of them out of this suburb of Homs at last," he assured.
The Homs governor highlighted the significant role played by the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties in Syria saying it was possible to achieve a ceasefire thanks to Russia’s efforts. He added that the process of militants’ withdrawal will take about 50 days.
According to Colonel Sergey Drozhzhin, a spokesman for the Reconciliation center, the negotiations with the militants were tough. "It was difficult to find a common language, but we are doing that all the same. It is very important for them to make sure that their withdrawal and route are safe. It is also important to ensure that the host party is ready to accommodate people. The Russian armed forces act as a guarantor of secure exits for residents and members of the illegal armed groups from the al-Waer area and the convoy’s movement," he explained.
Some militants are leaving the area with their arms. According to the terms of the agreement, they can bring one assault rifle and a magazine for it along with them. "There are fears (that militants can resume the fighting - TASS). I believe some 50% will take part in further hostilities and once again rejoin militants. However, the remaining half is likely to sell their weapons and, hopefully, start a new life," Drozhzhin added.
Earlier reports said that the implementation of the local truce agreement in al-Waer began on March 18. During the first stage, 423 militants who refused to surrender to the authorities left the area and were transported to Jarablus, a border town with Turkey. A total of 1,056 people, including their family members and civilians, left with them.
After the militants’ withdrawal from al-Waer, Homs will be fully liberated from the illegal armed groups. According to the province’s governor, talks are underway on withdrawing opposition members from the cities of Al-Rastan and Talbiseh located some 10 kilometers north of Homs.