Truce reached in besieged Syrian district

Food aid enters al-Waer, the last rebel-held area in Homs, after rebels and government agree to 10-day ceasefire.

Residents waiting for bread lit a fire to stay warm [Abu Ahmed/Al Jazeera]

The Syrian government and rebels have agreed on a ten-day ceasefire in the last opposition-held area of the city of Homs, activists say.

Residents in al-Waer neighbourhood, which has been besieged by regime troops for almost two years, lined up waiting for the delivery of food after the ceasefire took effect on Thursday.

Abu Ahmed, waiting for bread in freezing temperatures, told Al Jazeera that several food trucks had arrived. He and his friends used bits and pieces of paper and waste to light a fire to stay warm.

“We have been without any electricity, diesel or gas for heaters for too long now,” he said. “Children are really cold, we live in extreme cold.”

Buildings in al-Waer and other Homs neighbourhoods have been completely destroyed by bombardment [Abu Ahmed/Al Jazeera]

Thousands of residents have been stuck in al-Waer during the siege, only occasionally receiving food and humanitarian aid.

“We hope that after this the roads will open and we can have the freedom of moving,” Abu Ahmed said.

Residents told Al Jazeera they believed the rebels had agreed to a ceasefire because they had been weakened in recent months and were running out of supplies.

The ceasefire appeared to be a result of local negotiation efforts. Locals said talks between the warring sides had been going on for some time, but that it was not until Thursday a ceasefire was actually observed.

Homs, Syria’s third largest city, was once a key stronghold for the Syrian opposition in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

It was one of the first cities where protesters took to the streets in 2011 and later formed rebel brigades that managed to take control of most of the city. Except al-Waer, the regime has gradually been able to push rebels out of their holdouts.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Homs and most neighbourhoods have seen massive destruction.

[Abu Ahmed/Al Jazeera]
[Abu Ahmed/Al Jazeera]
Source: Al Jazeera