Putin Hails Ceasefire in Syria’s Homs

SOCHI, February 7 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday welcomed a three-day ceasefire in the besieged Syrian city of Homs, saying that it would alleviate pressing humanitarian problems of its people.

Speaking to high-ranking officials invited to a presidential dinner in Sochi, Putin thanked the Olympic Committee and the United Nations for their role in securing the truce.

“I’m sure that it [the ceasefire] will help to alleviate all humanitarian problems,” the president said.

The government and the opposition agreed a three-day ceasefire on Thursday night, allowing civilians to leave Homs and the delivery of aid to those who decided to stay in the besieged city.

The Syrian government said it would not let men aged 15-55 out of the city for fear of letting armed militants escape.

About 200 people, mostly women and children, are expected to leave Homs on Friday. AFP reported, citing its reporter in the area, that the first evacuation bus with ten passengers left the city Friday afternoon.

The ceasefire in Homs and aid deliveries to the area of one of Syria’s most acute humanitarian crises were discussed by the Syrian government and various opposition forces during last week’s negotiations in Geneva.

“We hope that the agreement on Homs will create favorable conditions for the second round of inter-Syrian dialog to begin in Geneva on February 10 and will serve as a good example in solving other pressing humanitarian problems,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

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