05/08/2014, 00.00
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As rebels leave Homs, opposition calls for more US weapons

After nearly two years of siege, a deal brokered by Iran and the UN brings relief to rebels and residents prostrated by hunger and lack of medicines. In Washington, a Syrian opposition leader wants "effective weapons," slams next month's elections, held "on the dead bodies of Syrians".

Damascus (AsiaNews) - The evacuation of rebels and their families from the old city of Homs continues today, after nearly two years of siege by government troops.

Thanks to an agreement brokered by the Iranian ambassador and the United Nations, rebels are being transferred to the north, in Dar al-Kabira, an area controlled by the opposition.

Each fighter was allowed to take one bag and a rifle, and one rocket-propelled-grenade launcher was permitted per bus.

Thanks to the agreement, Homs residents, including the rebels, can get food and medicine after nearly two years of siege. Two pro -Assad Shia towns, Nubul and Zahraa, besieged by rebels, will also be get emergency aid. And A number of rebel-held hostages in Aleppo and Latakiyah, including a Russian and some Iranians will be released.

The end of rebel resistance in Homs, one of the first cities to turn against the regime, represents a symbolic victory for Bashar Assad, who is about to be named president again in next month's elections.

In almost two years, the siege of the city has left at least 2,000 people dead, including Fr Frans Van der Lugt, who was killed in front of his home, perhaps because he was helping broker a deal to end the siege.

The evacuation of Homs follows a string list of victories by Assad's forces against a divided opposition.

Meanwhile, on a visit to Washington Ahmad Jarba, head of the Syrian National Coalition, condemned next month's elections as a "farce" that would give Assad a "license to kill for many years to come" as he runs for office "on the dead bodies of Syrians".

Jarba, who is set to meet President Barack Obama, wants the United States to provide "efficient weapons to face these attacks, so we can change the balance of power on the ground. This would allow for a political solution."

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