Syrian City of Homs Declared Fully Under Government Control

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman during a bilateral meeting, Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A Syrian official has declared the country’s third largest city Homs clear of armed opposition for the first time in more than five years, following the completion of the evacuation of the last holdout neighborhood.

Homs governor Talal Barrazi made the announcement Sunday after thousands of residents from the al-Waer neighborhood, the last opposition-held area in the city, were evacuated over several weeks. Barrazi spoke to journalists from the evacuated neighborhood. He told Lebanon’s al-Manar TV that the return of state institutions to al-Waer will begin immediately.

This brings the city under full government control for the first time in more than five years. Government forces in recent years captured one Homs neighborhood after another, until opposition fighters were isolated in al-Waer. The siege of al-Waer began in 2013.The final batch of opposition fighters and their families began leaving the besieged neighborhood Saturday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 20,000 were evacuated from the city, mostly to opposition-held areas in the country’s north.

Source: Associated Press