In the first sign of progress since peace talks began in Geneva two weeks ago, Syria has started evacuating civilians from the besieged city Homs.
In the first stage of a three-day humanitarian cease-fire agreement, about 80 women, children and elderly have been evacuated from Homs' Old City on buses accompanied by United Nations vehicles. (Via BBC)
The Old City has been under siege by President Bashar al-Assad's regime for more than a year and half and boasts some of the poorest conditions among all of Syria's war-ravaged cities. (Via CBC)
Evacuees described such rampant dehydration and malnutrition that some residents have been reduced to eating grass to survive.
The second phase of the agreement will allow a 12-truck convoy to deliver food, medicine and other aid to the nearly 2,500 residents who still remain in the Old City. The trucks are reportedly carrying about a month's supply of food. (Via Al Jazeera)
The cease fire deal is the first sign of progress from talks in Geneva between UN peace brokers, the Syrian regime and the country's opposition. (Via Sky News)
Russia, who has supported and armed Assad's regime, helped mediate the deal — calling it a "landmark agreement." However, U.S. officials don't believe any credit should be given to the Syrian regime.
The Washington Post quotes State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying: "An evacuation is not a substitute for the safe, regular and unfettered delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need ... humanitarian access should not be a political bargaining chip."
Over the course of the agreement, 200 Old City residents are expected to be evacuated. Further negotiations in Geneva are set to resume Monday.