Aid workers return to besieged Syrian city

More than 600 evacuated so far from Homs Old City, as violence targets residents and threatens work of aid agencies.

    Aid workers have returned to the besieged central Syrian city of Homs, a day after trucks carrying supplies came under fire, evacuating civilians and delivering food and medicine.

    More than 600 civilians have been evacuated from the Old City since Friday, with the majority coming out on Sunday. But the process has not been without danger.

    Activists told Al Jazeera that shelling struck civilians who were preparing to be evacuated in the district of Al Qarabis on Sunday. Several people were said to have been killed and a number of others injured as a result of the incident. 

    Khaled Erksoussi, the head of operations at Syrian Arab Red Crescent, told Associated Press on Sunday that the agency would try to evacuate more civilians from rebel-held areas in Homs, in line with a United Nations-brokered agreement on a three-day truce.

    Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have prevented the entry of food and medical aid into parts of Homs for more than a year.

    Erksoussi said 83 civilians have been evacuated since Friday, when the truce went into effect. It was broken a day later, leaving an aid worker wounded, he said in a phone interview from Damascus.

    At least nine Red Crescent and UN vehicles were trapped in Homs for several hours after dark when explosions struck on Saturday, but the team managed to leave shortly before 8:00pm GMT, leaving behind two damaged lorries.

    Speaking to Al Jazeera, Homs governor Talal Barazi said that following a meeting between the UN team, the Red Crescent, the Syrian army and security forces, the evacuation team would take the same route as Friday - through Jouret al Shayah al Qoubaisi road.

    The governor said between 100 and 200 civilians would be evacuated. Sunday is due to be the final day of a three-day ceasefire which Russia, a supporter of Assad, said had been agreed to allow the aid to be brought in and civilians to be moved out.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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