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A U.N. convoy of buses has arrived in Homs to start the initial evacuation of 200 women and children. The evacuation will not include men between the ages of 15 and 55, who are deemed most likely to be fighters.
"Moments ago the evacuation of civilian children, women and elderly began," a bulletin on state television said.
The Syrian Red Crescent also said Friday that it has posted ambulances at arrival points for evacuees leaving Homs. One patient has already been transported, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
Russia – an ally of the Syrian government – said Friday that a three-day ceasefire has been agreed upon so that civilians could be evacuated from Homs and supplies of humanitarian aid could reach those who choose to remain, as part of what Moscow called a "landmark" deal.
The U.S. State Department on Thursday said that it welcomed the deal reached between opposition forces and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – and that the government must make good on its promise to address the situation in the besieged city.
"The regime must follow through on its commitment to allow U.N. humanitarian relief convoys to enter Homs," State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
"As we have said, an evacuation is not a substitute for the safe, regular, and unfettered delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need wherever they are," she added. "Civilians should be allowed to come and go freely, and humanitarian access should not be a political bargaining chip."
When asked by a reporter if the move might be intended by the government to get some civilians out of Homs while targeting people who choose to remain, Psaki said this was not the view of the United States.
However, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power also expressed concerns, questioning the sincerity of the Syrian government's intentions.
"Given that the regime, up to this point, has described just about anybody living in opposition territory as a terrorist – and has attacked them as such – you know, we have reason on the basis of history to be very skeptical," she said in New York.
Power said Washington was "very concerned about anybody who falls into regime hands who comes from a part of the country that has been under opposition control."
The negotiations aim to broker a political solution to Syria's civil war. The nearly three-year conflict has killed more than 130,000 people, forced more than 2.3 million to seek refuge abroad, and sent sectarian tensions soaring across the region.