News ID: 215168
Published: 1249 GMT May 16, 2018

Government forces retake full control of central Syria

Government forces retake full control of central Syria

The Syrian government retook full control of central Syria on Wednesday as terrorists and their relatives were evacuated from final pockets of territory still outside Damascus’ grasp, an AFP correspondent reported.

The evacuations from areas straddling the boundary between Homs and Hama provinces came under a deal between terror factions and the government.

Hundreds of people gathered in the center of the town of Rastan in Homs Province to welcome the return of government security forces and attend a flag-raising ceremony on the main square.

Nearby towns and villages in the areas of Talbiseh and Al-Hula were also evacuated, the official SANA news agency and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor reported.

"The last convoy of terrorists and their families exits northern Homs Province and southern Hama Province," SANA reported.

The terrorists were transferred to Idlib Province, which still largely escapes the government’s control.

A total of 34,500 people — armed men and their families — were transferred out of the area as part of the deal, according to the report.

"As of today, there is not one gunman left, no weapons left in the whole of Homs Province," Governor Talal Barazai told AFP in Rastan.

Pockets of Daesh terrorists are however still thought to be active on the province's scarcely-populated far eastern edge.

The governor vowed that the Damascus-Hama highway would reopen "in the coming days".

The Syrian government has recaptured swathes of territory it lost following the outbreak of the foreign-backed conflict in 2011.

Government and allied forces have almost finished retaking areas around the capital Damascus that had been held by terrorists for years.

They have yet to seize back a small pocket still controlled by Daesh in southern Damascus, as well as a large part of the southern Daraa Province and much of Idlib, in the northwest.

A large part of northern and eastern Syria is controlled by Kurdish forces.

More than half of Syria 20-million-plus population has been displaced by the seven-year-old foreign-backed conflict, which the report said has killed more than 350,000 people.


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