Cease-fire reached in Syrian city of Homs

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Fighters have held areas around the Old City despite a two-year siege. Earlier this year civilians were let out. Photo> AP
A ceasefire agreement has been reached in the central Syrian city of Homs, according to local activists and a Lebanese TV channel that supports president Bashar Assad\’s government.
Syria\’s government and rebels agreed to a cease-fire Friday in the battleground city of Homs to allow hundreds of fighters holed up in its old quarters to evacuate, a deal that will bring the country\’s third-largest city under control of forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.
If the agreement goes through and rebel fighters leave, the capture of the city will be a significant victory for Assad, weeks before presidential elections set for June 3.
Homs, in the central western plains of Syria, was one of the first cities to rise up against his rule three years ago, earning it the nickname of the "capital of the revolution." After waves of anti-Assad protests by its residents, it was the first city largely taken over by armed rebels as the uprising evolved into outright civil war.
The deal is also a face-saving measure for the rebels. It calls for a 48-hour truce in rebel-held parts of Homs, after which, hundreds of fighters holed up in the area will be evacuated to opposition-held areas north of the city, said Tilawi and another activist who uses the name Thaer Khalildiya, who is based in countryside north of Homs.
At least 33 civilians have been killed and scores of others have been injured in a government airstrike on a market in the rebel-held Syrian city of Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday\’s attack occurred in the Hillok area.
The attack comes a day after a strike on an Aleppo school left 18 dead, many of them children.
Aleppo has been divided between government forces and rebels, with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carrying out frequent airstrikes and dropping crude barrel bombs in rebel-held areas.
Also Wednesday, members of the U.N. Security Council said they fear that little progress has been made on getting desperately needed humanitarian aid into Syria.
U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said a resolution passed in February aimed at eliminating obstacles to delivering aid is not working. She says less than 10 percent of the 242,000 people living in besieged areas have received assistance over the past four weeks. 
More than 150,000 people have been killed and another 2.6 million have fled the country since Syria\’s civil war began in March 2011. 
The conflict started with mass street protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and turned into an insurgency after a violent crackdown on demonstrators.
Source: TOE and agencies

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