31October2014

Articles

Syria Crisis: Hopes For Homs Truce As Geneva Talks Held

A fresh humanitarian truce is being negotiated in the Syrian city of Homs after hundreds of people were evacuated at the weekend, reports say.

The move comes as the second round of peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition began in Geneva.

The first round of talks ended last month with no firm agreements and with both sides trading insults.

The civil conflict has claimed more than 100,000 lives since 2011.

The violence has also driven 9.5 million people from their homes, creating a major humanitarian crisis within Syria and for its neighbours.

The evacuations in Homs were completed after a first three-day truce which ended on Sunday.

They took place amid mortar fire and shooting, which both sides blamed on each other. Activists say several people were killed.

Both the governor of Homs and opposition sources have spoken of a three-day extension to the ceasefire.

On Monday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France and other countries would present a resolution at the UN calling for greater access for humanitarian aid.

"We are asking for stronger action as far as the humanitarian side is concerned, that medicines and food supplies are handed out in cities," he told French radio.

"It is absolutely scandalous that there have been discussions for quite a while and that people are still being starved every day, and so along with a number of other countries, we will present a resolution at the UN along those lines."

The Syrian government has acknowledged that some of those evacuated from Homs on Sunday were detained after they left the city.

A Syrian information ministry spokesman has told the BBC that 103 "militants" had been detained for security checks, but had since been released.

But other reports suggest the men have not been released, and are still being detained with their families.

In other developments on the ground in Syria:

Rebel fighters from the hardline Islamist brigade, Jund al-Aqsa, have killed at least 21 civilians and 20 pro-government militiamen in Maan, a predominantly Alawite village in Hama province, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said. A video posted online purportedly showed members of Jund al-Aqsa moving into the village and opening fire

The jihadist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is reported to have withdrawn from the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, after days of heavy fighting with rival rebel groups, including the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front. Pro-ISIS activists said it wanted to prevent further bloodshed

After the ceasefire in Homs expired on Sunday evening, explosions and gunfire rang out all night before calm returned early on Monday, reports say.

Source: BBC