Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com – 2014-05-08 01:45:33
After Two Year Siege, Syrian Rebels Leave Homs
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(May 7, 2014) — Two years into the siege of Homs, the Old City, the last neighborhood held by the rebels, has been evacuated today in a deal brokered by the UN and Iran. Most of the city had been retaken months ago, and the last holdouts were starving and out of the rebel supply lines.
Under the deal, the rebels agreed to hand over the Old City and flee north, into rebel-held territory. They agreed to give the military details about the booby traps set in the Old City as part of the deal to withdraw.
The civilians had all left the neighborhood back in February, in a deal negotiated during the Geneva II peace talks. Under that deal, those leaving couldn’t take weapons, and the military ran checks to make sure they weren’t rebels. This time, each rebel was allowed to take a rifle, and the busloads of rebels each took grenade launchers.
Homs had once been the center of the rebellion, but as the war has dragged on most of the rebel held territory is now in the north and east of the country, while everything from Homs to Damascus is held by the government.
Syria Rebel Commander Confession Blames ‘Donor Countries’ for Rout
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(May 7, 2014) — Adding to the intrigue around the weekend capture of Free Syrian Army commander Ahmed Nehmeh by al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra, the commander has offered a confession surrounding the details of a November rout, one of the grievances Nusra is seeking to take him to court over.
Back in November, the rebels lost the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh, on the outskirts of Daraa, in a military rout that was blamed on “rivalries” and the pullout of Nehmeh’s troops from the town in the middle of a military offensive.
Nehmeh’s confession claims he was ordered to withdraw from the town by “donor countries” that are bankrolling the FSA’s military operations, meaning the US and other Western nations. He also claimed the orders were forwarded to him by Jordanian officials directly.
The commander says the Western nations told him they were concerned Nusra had too much influence in Khirbet Ghazaleh, and that it was giving the al-Qaeda faction too much influence in the southern front in general, so they ordered him to withdraw his troops during the fight to ensure the Syrian military would retake the town.
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