Syria agrees to let women, children leave besieged Homs area

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Hundreds of people are reportedly trapped in besieged parts of the city, including some who are very ill. Reuters
U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi says Syrian government delegates, at peace talks in Geneva, have agreed to allow women and children to immediately leave a besieged district in the central city of Homs.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said women and children were free to leave. He alleged armed groups were preventing them from leaving.
Homs is one of Syria\’s largest cities and has been pounded by government assaults to reclaim control from rebel forces.
The breakthrough followed two rounds of talks Sunday between the U.N. mediator and representatives of Syria\’s government and the opposition.
The early talks in Geneva, Switzerland, focused on the release of thousands of prisoners, including women, children and the elderly, from Syrian prisons. 
Brahimi told a press conference later Sunday the opposition has agreed to a government request for a list of detainees held by armed rebel groups.
Brahimi said he will meet the two sides jointly on Monday. The idea of forming a transitional governing body might come up then.
Negotiators from the Syrian government and opposition met for the first time in Geneva Saturday after the process nearly broke down Friday. It was an achievement for mediator Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, just to get the two delegations into the same room. 
The official goal of the so-called Geneva 2 talks is to form a Syrian transitional government, though analysts say the chances of achieving this are slim. 
Syria\’s civil conflict has claimed well over 100,000 lives since it began in 2011.
The violence has also driven 9.5 million people from their homes, creating a major humanitarian crisis within Syria and for its neighbours.
Source: VOA and agencies

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