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ISIS militants leaving Homs

Damascus clears historical Homs

Damascus has consolidated its position on Sunday with the complete withdrawal of militants from the western Syrian city of Homs. The move marked a major shift in the balance of forces.

Published: May 22, 2017, 12:28 pm

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    Homs was the first city where the so-called opposition tried to overthrow President Assad and his elected government, underlining the political importance of the liberation of the city.

    Homs is Syria’s third largest city, liberated for the first time since 2011 from armed opposition groups. It was once the center of the uprising against Assad.

    Syria’s army, officially known as the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) suffered from defections in the fall of 2011 to what would become the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army, a US proxy force to overthrow Assad.

    “It is a great achievement today,” Homs governor Talal Barrazi told Syrian TV channel al-Ikhbariya. The governer said government institutions will be returning to al-Waer immediately. “There are no more weapons or armed men in al-Waer […] we can declare Homs to be a secure city.”

    The last convoy of militants were taken in the direction of Jarablus, completing a withdrawal from al-Waer district of the city they occupied. Some 2500 people left the city with the convoy, including 700 militants.

    The evacuees left on board 50 buses with more than 30 trucks transporting household belongings to follow, a correspondent from AFP noted.

    “The final convoy has departed from al-Waer district, while civilians not wishing to leave their homes remained in the district. After the sappers enter the district it will be decided, whether the mass media representatives will be allowed to visit the last liberated district,” a Syrian police officer told Sputnik News.

    Thanks to Russian mediation, Syrian authorities and militant groups in Homs reached an agreement in March guaranteeing safe passage, courtesy of Syrian government troops. The Russian-supervised operation began two months ago and has been carried out over several weeks.

    At least 600 Russian soldiers will reportedly now be deployed in al-Waer to provide security, while radicals will now concentrate their forces in the northwestern city of Idlib, analysts say.

    Idlib is controlled by al-Qaeda in Syria in order to establish Sharia law. Even though it has a new name, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, it is not a moderate force.

    The Saudi financed al-Qaeda in Idlib is currently in direct competion with the Turkish controlled Ahrar al-Sham whose headquarters in Idlib were blown up by two suicide bombers, blogger Moon of Alabma reported.

    Meanwhile the border area between Lebanon and Syria, controlled by Hezbollah and the Syrian army, represents Hezbollah’s new base, hosting Hezbollah “Al Ridwan” elite forces, according to Elijah J. Magnier.

    The Syrian Army is also continuing to move towards Tanf despite the US bombing attack, and pushing on a second axis in Suweida along the Syrian-Jordan border in what may be described as multi-front battles in the east south, middle and north of Syria to counter the US plans.

    Damascus has warned Amman against deploying Jordanian forces on Syrian soil in support of the US and its Syrian proxies. It could spoil the US plans to occupy the North- east of Syria, in order to push for the partitioning of the country.

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