Syria conflict: UN restarts aid mission in Homs



The UN has restarted its aid mission in the besieged rebel-held Old City of Homs after hours of talks aimed at saving a truce between warring parties.
UN vehicles towed trailers of food into the city, and aid agencies prepared buses to transport fleeing civilians.
The current ceasefire deal is due to end late on Wednesday, but the regime has said it will allow an extension.
Hundreds were evacuated from the Old City after a truce was agreed last Friday, but more than 1,000 remain.
The BBC’s Lyse Doucet, in Homs, says every precaution is being taken with the latest food delivery.
Red Crescent vehicles were attacked on their way to the Old City at the weekend, and their workers were briefly trapped.

Government troops have besieged Homs for 18 months.
Evacuations over the weekend were facilitated by a three-day truce, which was then extended until Wednesday.
But the operation was suspended on Tuesday because of what UN and Syrian officials said were logistical reasons.

Homs governor Talal Barazi said the temporary truce could be extended further if necessary.
The UN’s local aid chief Yacoub El Hillo, who is overseeing the operation, told the BBC it was “crucial” that the evacuations continued.
Convoys came under fire at the weekend, and Mr Hillo described his visit to Homs as like a “day in hell”.
UN agencies have also expressed concern over the fate of dozens of men who were taken in by Syrian security personnel after they fled Homs.
UN rights spokesman Rupert Colville said it was “essential that they do not come to any harm”.
The detainees were being held at an abandoned school, the UN said.

Mr Barazi said 111 men had been questioned and released, while 190 others were still being held.
“I just want to say I hope that that the bigger percentage will all be released,” he told the BBC.
“They are living in a shelter in very good conditions. They have all the services, health, medical services and they are all secure.”
The Syrian authorities said the screening was necessary to weed out “terrorists”.
In Geneva, Syrian government and opposition negotiators met face-to-face on Tuesday.
But UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said there had not been very much progress so far.

“The beginning of this week is as laborious as it was in the first week,” he told a news conference in Geneva.
The first round ended last month with no firm agreements and both sides trading insults.
The opposition wants the government to commit in writing to the 2012 Geneva Communique, which called for the formation of a transitional administration with full executive authority.
President Bashar al-Assad’s government has ruled out any transfer of power.
The civil conflict has claimed more than 100,000 lives since 2011 and has driven 9.5 million people from their homes.

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