Evacuation of civilians to begin in Syrian city

Associated Press
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In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian army soldier holds his automatic weapon, as he takes his position behind sand barriers, in the central city of Homs, Syria, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. Since it began with largely peaceful protests in March 2011, the Syrian conflict has killed more than 130,000 people, forced almost a third of the country's prewar population of 23 million from their homes, and inflamed sectarian tensions that have jolted the entire Middle East. (AP Photo/SANA)

BEIRUT (AP) — The governor of the central Syrian province of Homs says the evacuation of dozens of civilians from besieged rebel-held neighborhoods in the provincial capital is expected to begin within hours.

Homs Governor Talal Barrazi told Syrian state TV Friday that all necessary security precautions were taken for the evacuation in Homs city. It will not include men between the age of 15 and 55, those most likely to be fighters.

Barrazi says the first batch of 200 civilians will leave the rebel-held neighborhood of Jouret el-Shayah.

The announcement came a day after President Bashar Assad's government said it reached an agreement with the United Nations to let hundreds of trapped civilians leave besieged parts of Homs and permit U.N. humanitarian relief convoys to enter.

"The atmosphere is positive" Barrazi said.