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630 people return to Syria's third largest city from rebel-held area
BY 2017-07-12 09:20:04

DAMASCUS, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Some 630 people have returned to their homes in Syria's central city of Homs on Tuesday from a northern rebel-held city they evacuated to last year, state news agency SANA reported.

The people were evacuated from the al-Waer neighborhood of Homs last May, along with armed militants, toward the rebel-held city of Jarablus in northern Syria, said SANA.

Last May, an evacuation deal between Syrian government and the rebels was reached in al-Waer, the last rebel-held area in Homs by then, under the mediation and supervision of Russia.

The deal agreed to send the rebels and their families as well as civilians to Jarablus, the northern countryside of Aleppo province in northern Syria, near the Turkish borders.

The 630 people chose to go back to their hometown due to the difficult conditions in Jarablus, where they were hosted in camps by the Turkey-backed rebels, according to the report.

Talal Barazi, Governor of Homs, told SANA that the return of Syrians to their homes is an ongoing process and the 630 people are the fifth batch of civilians that have returned to al-Waer.

He noted that these Syrians chose to live in their homes under the government's administration instead of the control of the rebels in Jarablus.

Al-Waer was declared as a rebel-free neighborhood last May, following the evacuation of the last rebel batch from that sprawling neighborhood.

Previous statistics indicated that al-Waer used to accommodate 300,000 people before the six-year war erupted in Syria. The number once decreased to 75,000, during which al-Waer was besieged by government forces between 2014 and 2017.

Retaking the neighborhood was a significant progress for Syrian government, as it enabled the government forces to regain full control of Homs, Syria's third largest city located in the heart of Syria.

Homs is also one of Syria's most important industrial centers, boasting the country's largest oil refinery and key oil and gas fields in its eastern countryside.

The city is also a hub connecting major Syrian cities, and gaining full control over the city will be an important step for the government to have full control over Syria's other major cities like Damascus, Latakia, Aleppo and Hama.

(Editor:Li Zhaoqi) (From:xinhua)
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