Syrian militants Friday were surrendering their heavy weapons after reaching a new deal with the government for a central swathe of territory, a report said.
Takfiri terrorists agreed with Syrian forces and their allies to a ceasefire deal earlier this week for parts of Syria’s central provinces of Hama and Homs, including the rebel towns of Talbiseh, Rastan, and Houleh.
“The fighters are handing over their heavy and intermediate weapons to Russian and regime forces for the second consecutive day,” the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
It included artillery and machine guns, said Rami Abdel-Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory.
“Once the handovers are finished, the rebels who want to leave will be evacuated out…,” Abdel-Rahman told AFP.
They will be granted safe passage to the rebel-held town of Jarabulus, in Aleppo province, and the neighboring province of Idlib, according to state news agency SANA.
It said the deal also provided for the return of government institutions to the three towns and the reopening of a key highway.
That highway runs from the capital Damascus, through Homs, and onto second city Aleppo, in the north. Securing it has been a major target for the Arab country’s military operations.
The area in Homs was part of a “de-escalation zone” agreed one year ago by Iran, Turkey and Russia.
The four zones initially saw a reduction in shelling but violence has since escalated.
One of them, Eastern Ghouta, was recaptured last month by the Syrian government after a two-month offensive that ended in forced evacuations of rebels there.
The agreement comes after several days of intermittent clashes and army reinforcements to the area.
It is the third such transfer deal for Homs province, after thousands were bussed out in a pair of agreements for the city itself.
Such negotiated withdrawals have brought swathes of territory back under government control during the country’s seven-year war, most recently near Damascus.
Another evacuation deal was underway on Friday in rebel-held areas south of the capital.
SANA reported buses were entering the towns of Yalda, Babila, and Beit Saham to take militants and their families north to rebel territory.
It was the second day of transfers for the towns. Around 1,650 terrorists were bussed out on Thursday and reached northern Syria the following morning, according to the Observatory.