The United Nations on Thursday welcomed reports that an agreement had been reached to allow the evacuation of civilians from the Syrian city of Homs and for aid to be delivered, a U.N spokesman said.
The United Nations made clear that it was not a party to the deal and while it was ready to send in aid, it did not yet have the go-ahead from the government and opposition sides in Syrian crisis to move on the reported agreement.
U.N. spokesman "Farhan Haq" said in a statement "the United Nations and humanitarian partners had pre-positioned food, medical and other basic supplies on the outskirts of Homs ready for immediate delivery as soon as the green light was given by the parties for safe passage".
Syria earlier said it reached a deal to allow "innocent" civilians to leave the old city of Homs, potentially the first positive result after deadlocked peace talks in Switzerland last week.
Syrian foreign ministry statement, cited on Syria TV stressed that "the agreement will allow innocent civilians surrounded in the neighbourhoods of Old Homs - among them women and children, the wounded and the elderly - an opportunity to leave as soon as the necessary arrangements, in addition to offering them humanitarian aid".
He confirmed "It will also allow in aid to civilians who choose to stay inside the old city".
Russian RIA news agency quoted an unnamed official at Syrian Defence Ministry saying rebel fighters were keeping civilians in the area as human shields.
It quoted the source as saying "as for civilians, we are not holding them up or refusing them humanitarian aid but the terrorists are the problem", adding "terrorists are claiming that there are only civilians in the Old City who need humanitarian aid. In fact, it's terrorists who are mainly there, including foreign militants, using small groups of civilians held as hostages".
RIA said the evacuation of civilians and entrance of humanitarian aid were due to start on Friday morning, but that was no immediately confirmed by the United Nations.