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MENAFN - Arab News - 14/02/2014
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(MENAFN -Arab News) BEIRUT: The governor of the central Syrian province of Homs says a cease-fire has been extended for three days as of Thursday


Gov. Talal Barrazi says that as long as there are people who want to leave rebel-held besieged areas in Homs the truce will be extended


An official at Barrazi’s office said there were no evacuations of Homs on Thursday


The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said evacuations are expected to resume on Friday. It was the second extension since the truce went into effect last week


Hundreds of civilians have been evacuated from Homs since Friday when a rare cease-fire went into effect


The cease-fire expired on Wednesday night


Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below


Government shelling and airstrikes using makeshift barrel bombs have killed about 400 people in Syria’s largest city so far this month, activists said Thursday, as US and Russian envoys met in Geneva to try to revive the deadlocked peace talks


The bombings in Aleppo are part of a campaign by President Bashar Assad’s forces to wrest control of neighborhoods that were seized by rebels in the northern city since mid-2012


They also come against reports of talks between Syrian government and UN officials on extending the humanitarian truce in the central city of Homs to evacuate more people from the besieged rebel-held districts


Hundreds of civilians have been evacuated from Homs since Friday when a rare cease-fire went into effect. Aid workers took advantage of the temporary truce that was implemented by the warring sides before the second round of peace talks started in Geneva this week. The cease-fire expired on Wednesday night


Khaled Erksoussi, the head of operations with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent told The Associated Press that the agency’s teams are on stand-by to accompany more people out of the city if the truce is extended. It is unlikely that aid workers will be able to deliver more aid to those still trapped in Old Homs, he said


Violence, meanwhile, continued in Aleppo


The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said at least 51 people were killed Wednesday, mainly by barrel bombs, shrapnel-packed explosive devices dropped on eight rebel-held districts from helicopters. The Observatory said that raised the total killed in the city to some 400 since the beginning of this month


There is no way to independently verify the figure


The Observatory, which has been documenting Syria’s conflict since its start in March 2011 through a network of activists on the ground, released its report on the latest Aleppo casualties on Thursday, ahead of a trilateral meeting between senior US and Russian officials and UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, and Syrian government and opposition representatives in Geneva


A second round of talks started in Switzerland on Monday but the discussions quickly became mired in acrimony as government and opposition delegates hurled accusations for the bloodshed taking place back home, failing to even agree on the talks’ agenda


From the outset, the talks have been accompanied by a sharp rise in violence on the ground


The Observatory said that overall at least 4,959 people have died in Syria in the three-week period since Jan. 22, when the government and opposition delegates sat down for the first round of face-to-face meetings in Geneva. The Observatory said in a report Wednesday that the period has seen the highest death toll since the uprising against Assad started nearly three years ago


More than 130,000 people have died in the conflict since then, activists say. Millions of Syrians have been driven from their homes, some seeking shelter in neighboring countries and others in safe parts of their homeland


Those include 400 families that have crossed into Lebanon since the Syrian army launched on offensive on rebel stronghold of Yabroud earlier this week, said Dana Sleiman, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency in Beirut


Yabroud is the last rebel stronghold in Syria’s mountainous Qalamoun region, located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Lebanese border. Backed by Lebanon’s Hezbollah fighters, the Syrian army has been on a crushing offensive there since early December.


 


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