Homs governor ready to evacuate trapped Syrians

Damascus, Jan 30 (IANS) The governor of Syria’s Homs province said Wednesday that authorities were prepared to evacuate trapped civilians in old quarters held by rebels.

Talal Barazi said the authorities were waiting for a response from the rebel groups inside the besieged area through a UN resident coordinator Yacoub al Helou, who was shuttling between the two sides to secure the evacuation, Xinhua reported.
The UN has aid convoys waiting to deliver humanitarian rations to the besieged people inside the old city of Homs, media reports said.
UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, who is mediating in the ongoing Geneva II peace conference, said: “The convoy is … waiting to enter. The authorization has not yet been given. We haven’t given up on that.”
However, Barazi denied the presence of any aid convoy bound for old homs. “The news about the presence of aid convoys is totally untrue and we have no knowledge about this subject.”
He said that after the evacuation of the first batch of civilians, he would hold a meeting with UN officials to assess the situation inside the area.
The governor stressed that the government would by no means accept to deliver aid that ends up in the hands of rebels, noting that they could take advantage of a recent pardon and surrender themselves.
Activists said about 3,000 civilians and 4,000 rebels are trapped in the old quarters of Homs which the Syrian troops have besieged for 20-months.