Skip to main content

Cease-fire in Syrian city of Homs extended for another three days: U.N.

By Chandrika Narayan and Alex Felton CNN
February 10, 2014 -- Updated 2308 GMT (0708 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: U.N.-brokered cease-fire in Syrian city extended for another three days
  • NEW: 300 civilians evacuated from Homs Monday, says Syria's Red Crescent
  • Evacuations come as new round of peace talks begin in Geneva

Geneva, Switzerland (CNN) -- It's a brief reprieve for hundreds of Syrian civilians trapped for months in a besieged city.

The Syrian government and opposition have agreed to extend a truce in Homs by another three days, the United Nations said.

"I hope this will allow us to evacuate yet more civilians and deliver much needed additional supplies," said Valerie Amos, the U.N. humanitarian chief. "The protection of civilians caught up in this horrendous conflict in Syria is the greatest priority for U.N. agencies and humanitarian partners."

More than 800 civilians have been given safe passage out of the city since the deal was put in place Friday, she said in a statement.

Syria's Red Crescent tweeted that a group of around 300 people were taken to safety early Monday.

Parts of Homs have been under siege since June 2012.

Under fire in Homs

U.N. convoy attacked in Syria
Details emerge on Homs aid corridor
In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war: In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war:
Syrian civil war in photos
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Syrian civil war in photos Syrian civil war in photos

The U.N.-brokered truce has been violated several times.

Vehicles from the Red Crescent and United Nations had a difficult time entering the city over the weekend as they were targeted by gunfire and explosives.

Eleven people were killed as the operations were being carried out, said Amos.

"People seeking refuge and those carrying out humanitarian operations should not be fired on," Amos said in a statement

"U.N. and Red Crescent workers told me that many of the people who left Old Homs were traumatized and weak. They also said that they witnessed terrible conditions at the field hospital in the Old City, where the equipment is basic, there are no medicines and people are in urgent need of medical attention."

Social media video from inside Homs captured some of the chaotic scenes as desperate people lined up for a chance to leave.

One clip shows dozens of residents sitting or standing around several U.N. vans. An activist behind camera comments that are not enough vehicles for all the waiting families, while a U.N. worker yells: "We need to move and we will come back."

Another part of the same video shows a woman looking desperately for her lost son. "How can I leave without him? He is my son," she says and screams out his name.

Homs is just one of 40 besieged communities in Syria, according to the U.N.'s World Food Programme, which says about a quarter of a million people have been cut off from humanitarian aid for months.

The conflict has claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced millions more since it began in 2011, creating a major humanitarian crisis within Syria and for its neighbors.

New Round of Peace talks

As the regime and opposition swapped accusations over the truce violations, Syria's warring sides began a new round of peace talks in Geneva.

United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met with the Syrian opposition Monday morning before separate talks with government representatives.

The second round of talks center around the formation of a transitional governmental body and the cessation of violence.

The opposition delegation said each side would meet with Brahimi separately until the U.N. envoy decided there was common ground for joint discussions.

The first round of talks ended some 10 days ago, with no firm agreements and bitter statements from both sides.

The government insists that the talks focus on fighting "terrorism" -- its description of the uprising -- but the opposition says the priority should be the removal of President Bashar al-Assad.

The opposition has insisted that the government commit in writing to the 2012 Geneva I communique, which called for the formation of a transitional government.

Al-Assad's government has ruled out any transfer of power.

Brahimi will meet with high-level Russian and U.S. diplomats in Geneva this week, the U.N. said Monday.

He will meet with Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gennady Gatilov and U.S. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Friday, the U.N. said without providing more details.

In a separate development, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced a third shipment of chemical weapons material from Syria had taken place.

It said the material was on board a Norwegian cargo vessel accompanied by a naval escort from China, Denmark, Norway, and Russia.

"In-country destruction of some chemical materials has taken place alongside the removal of chemical weapons material," it added.

READ: 90 killed in punishing air raids in Syria's Aleppo

READ: Evacuation continues in Syria despite gunfire, explosions

READ: Syrian children dying of hunger

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT