Syria truce 'to let rebels withdraw from besieged Homs'

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Street scene in Homs (file photo)Image source, Reuters
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Parts of Homs have been under siege for nearly two years

Opposition fighters are to be allowed to withdraw from besieged parts of the Syrian city of Homs under a deal with the government, reports say.

Rebels will be allowed to pull back to opposition-held areas north of Homs, activists say. The Syrian government has not commented on the reports.

Fighters have held areas around the Old City despite a two-year siege. Earlier this year civilians were let out.

Also on Friday, two bombs in Hama province reportedly killed at least 18.

Eleven children were among the dead after suicide bombers struck in the villages of Jibrin and al-Humeiri, both under government control, state media said.

The attack comes three days after scores of people were killed and injured in car bombings in government-controlled parts of Homs city.

There has so far been no claim of responsibility for the Hama bombings, correspondents say, but al-Qaeda affiliated rebels of the Nusra Front have carried out several car bombings in recent weeks.

'Unusually quiet'

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based activist group, said about 1,000 fighters were expected to pull out from rebel-held areas of Homs under the terms of a ceasefire.

Image source, AFP
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Children were among the dead and injured in Friday's twin bombings

The city has seen some of the worst fighting in the three years of the Syrian conflict.

The SOHR said rebels will be allowed to withdraw to the north of the province, while the army will take control of areas of the Old City which they have vacated.

"The withdrawal has not begun yet and under the agreement those leaving will be able to keep their weapons," Homs activist Thaer al-Khalidiyeh told AFP news agency.

A team in the city from the AP news agency said it was unusually quiet on Friday, with no shots fired.

In February, hundreds of civilians - many ill and starved - were evacuated from Homs Old City after the UN negotiated a temporary ceasefire between rebels and Syrian forces.