Syria rebels hand over arms in new deal with government

Syrian rebels and civilians prepare to be evacuated from the town of Yalda on the southern outskirts of Damascus on May 3 under a negotiated withdrawal. (AFP)
Updated 04 May 2018

Syria rebels hand over arms in new deal with government

BEIRUT: Syrian rebels on Friday were surrendering their heavy weapons for the second day after agreeing with the government a new deal to withdraw from central towns, a war monitor said.
Opposition fighters agreed with regime forces and their allies to a cease-fire deal earlier this week for the rebel towns of Talbisseh, Rastan, and Al-Houla, which fall in Syria’s central province of Homs.
“The fighters are handing over their heavy and intermediate weapons to Russian and regime forces for the second consecutive day,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
It included artillery and machine guns, said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory.
“Once the handovers are finished, the rebels who want to leave will be evacuated out with civilians,” Abdel Rahman said.
The deal for the three rebel-controlled towns follows a similar pattern to other agreements recently reached across Syria, mostly around Damascus.
Rebels and civilians will be granted safe passage to the rebel-held town of Jarabulus, in Aleppo province, and the neighboring province of Idlib which largely escapes government control, according to state news agency SANA.
It said the deal also provided for the return of government institutions to the three towns and the reopening of a key highway.
That highway runs from the capital Damascus, through Homs, and onto second city Aleppo, in the north. Securing it has been a major target for the regime’s military operations.
The three towns were part of a “de-escalation zone” agreed one year ago by opposition supporter Turkey and regime allies Iran and Russia.
The total of four zones initially saw a reduction in shelling but violence has since escalated.
One of them, Eastern Ghouta, was recaptured last month by the Syrian government after a blistering two-month offensive that ended in forced evacuations of rebels and civilians there.
Jaish Al-Izza, one rebel faction present in the Homs area where a deal was reached, has said it rejects the agreement and pledged to remain deployed on its front lines.
It is the third such transfer deal for Homs province, after thousands were bused out in a pair of agreements for the city itself.


The Middle East implements measures to combat deadly coronavirus

Updated 3 min 21 sec ago

The Middle East implements measures to combat deadly coronavirus

  • Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has started an evacuation plan for Bahraini nationals in Iran

DUBAI: Coronavirus has been widely spreading in the Middle East during the past week with Iran recording the highest number of infections and deaths in the region.

Countries in the Middle East are currently taking extraordinary steps to prevent the growing coronavirus outbreak.

00:51 – Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has started an evacuation plan for Bahraini nationals in Iran including screening and quarantine procedures. The Ministry called on all Bahrainis to register their details by calling: +97317227555

(Developing)