Aid workers return to besieged Syrian city of Homs

Evacuation begins as violence continues in Homs' Old City, targeting residents and threatening work of aid agencies

UN aid workers returned to the besieged Syrian city of Homs to evacuate civilians, a day after trucks carrying supplies came under fire.
Photo credit should read BASSEL TAWIL/AFP/Getty Images

Aid workers returned to the besieged central Syrian city of Homs on Sunday, evacuating hundreds of civilians and delivering food and medicine a day after trucks carrying supplies came under fire in the tense and dangerous operation.

Activists told Al Jazeera that shelling struck civilians who were preparing to be evacuated in the district of Al Qarabis. Several people were reportedly killed and a number of others injured. 

More than 600 civilians have been evacuated from the Old City section of Homs since Friday, with the majority coming out Sunday.

Governor Talal Barrazi gave the updated tally of evacuees on Sunday evening after aid workers finished their work for the day.

The evacuation is part of a three-day truce that began Friday between the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the armed opposition to allow hundreds of women, children and elderly people to leave opposition-held parts of Homs, and to allow food to be brought in. 

Syrian forces loyal to Assad have prevented food and medical aid from coming into opposition-held parts of Homs for more than a year, amid a brutal conflict that has raged for three years.

The truce was violated on Saturday, leaving an aid worker wounded, according to Khaled Erksoussi, the head of operations at the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

At least nine Red Crescent and U.N. vehicles were trapped in Homs for several hours after dark when explosions struck on Saturday, but the team managed to leave shortly before 8 p.m. GMT, leaving behind two damaged trucks.

The conflict in Syria has killed 130,000 people, driven millions from their homes and devastated cities – especially Homs, a center of protest when the 2011 uprising against 40 years of Assad family rule first erupted. The protests quickly evolved into a full-scale armed revolt that has fed off of sectarian tensions and threatens to destabilize the region.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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