Al-Muqdad : Syria agrees to let women, children leave besieged Homs area
Al-Muqdad : Syria agrees to let women, children leave besieged Homs area
News   /   Syrian Crisis

Syria agreed at peace talks in Geneva today to allow women and children safe passage from the city of Homs where they have been under siege for months.

In the first tangible promise to emerge from the talks, U.N mediator "Lakhdar Brahimi" said Syrian government would allow the women and children out "from now on".

"What we have been told by the government side is that women and children in this besieged area of the city are welcome to leave immediately", Brahimi told reporters after a second day of talks involving regime and opposition delegations in Switzerland.

He said this would be "hopefully starting tomorrow" and that other civilians would also be allowed to leave "but the government needs a list of their names first".

Brahimi also repeated his hope that a convoy of humanitarian aid could enter the besieged area on Monday, saying rebel forces had already agreed and the local governor was considering the issue.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister "Faisal al-Muqdad" confirmed that women and children would be allowed to leave and blamed opposition militants for preventing it in the first place.

Al-Muqdad told reporters "I have been personally involved over the past two years to get these women and children out of the Old City of Homs... In all these attempts we have been prevented by the armed groups, who did not allow a single person out".

Syrian Information Minister "Omran al-Zoubi" said the issue of prisoners needed to be discussed "without discrimination", with the focus also on people held by opposition militants.

he told reporters that "there are also thousands of people who have been kidnapped, some who have been missing without a trace for two-and-a-half years".

Brahimi said the opposition had agreed "they will try to collect a list of names" of people held by opposition militants or have contact with.

With little hopes of major political breakthroughs at the talks, mediators are focusing on short-term deals to keep a peace process moving forward, including on localised ceasefires, freer humanitarian access and prisoner exchanges.

Meanwhile Brahimi didn't confirm that political issues would be discussed on Monday but said the talks would become more general.

He said "this is a political negotiation, everything we discuss is political", adding "I think tomorrow I expect the two parties to make some general statement about the way forward".

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