Hundreds of besieged fighters due to leave under terms of ceasefire which would hand regime forces control of city.
Last updated: 03 May 2014 09:08
|The first Syrian rebels are due to withdraw from areas oh Homs after agreeing a ceasefire deal with government forces who had surrounded them.|
According to activists inside Syria's third largest city, the first of about 1,000 fighters would withdraw from the Old City on Saturday at noon local time (9am GMT) to countryside to the north of the city.
Syrian Red Crescent ambulances will also evacuate the injured from the Old City area under the terms of the 48-hour deal, and rebels will release an Iranian officer they are holding prisoner.
While Saturday's deal will leave the city in effective control of government forces, there are reports of fighters living among the population in the densely populated Al Waer neighbourhood.
Homs is known as the 'capital of the revolution' for street protests against the government of Bashar al-Assad during the early days of the Syrian uprising in 2011.Activists inside the city told Al Jazeera they blame a punishing siege and the lack of international assistance for the rebel agreement to withdraw.
"It is impossible to take the city back but we were so weak. We were hungry. We couldn't even walk 100 metres. I used to weigh 73kg, now I weigh 53kg", said an unidentified activist from Homs.
Rebel-held areas were surrounded and face fierce bombardment since the government launched a campaign to take the city in 2012/
The city is strategically important as it connects government strongholds along the western coast with the capital, Damascus.
"The regime is concentrating on retaking strategic territory, it is part of their plan to partition the country" said Khaled el-Khoja, of the Syrian National Council, an opposition block in exile.
In February, a deal reached by the opposition and the Syrian government at peace talks in Geneva allowed most civilians to leave rebel-held areas of Homs.
Deadly attack in Libya's Benghazi
Nine people killed and 24 wounded after gunmen attack security headquarters in eastern city, say officials.
Last updated: 03 May 2014 07:06
|Gunmen have attacked a security forces headquarters in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi, killing nine people and wounding 24, authorities said, blaming a group allegedly behind the attack of a US diplomatic post there.|
A security official said Friday's attack started when dozens of gunmen opened fire with machine guns and mortar bombs. The attack lasted for an hour, with the fighting heard miles away.
Libyan commandos later arrived and fought the attackers, reported the Associated Press news agency. The official said the attackers suffered heavy casualties, the agency added.
A statement issued by the interim government and read by Ahmed al-Amin, the cabinet spokesman, put the death toll at nine people.
Milad al-Zowi, a commando spokesman, said the dead were six army commandos and three police officers.
Zowi said that three soldiers and a police officer were missing after the battle.
A hospital official said his hospital treated 24 people wounded in the fighting, with most suffering gunshot wounds to the chest and the abdomen. Some were in critical condition, he said.
The government said a number of fighters were killed, while others were wounded and arrested.
Attackers likely tried to get their hands on a car loaded with weapons and ammunition that the security forces had confiscated the previous night, authorities added.
A security official at the Benghazi headquarters, Gamal al-Amami, said the driver of the vehicle belonged to the Libya Shield militia.
The government's statement blamed the Ansar al-Shariah group for the attack, along with other "criminal groups", adding it would not tolerate "the presence of armed and illegal terrorist groups".
Ansar al-Shariah is blamed for the attack on the US diplomatic mission that killed the US ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans on September 11, 2012.
|Nine Soldiers Killed as Islamist Militants Attack Security HQ in Libya|