Volume. 11982
Homs evacuation was a ‘huge victory’ for Assad: McCain
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_01_Syria99a(13).jpgU.S. Senator John McCain has described the withdrawal of foreign-backed militants from the western Syrian city of Homs as a "huge victory" for President Bashar al-Assad.
"It creates momentum for Bashar Assad for already ramped up attacks, which are continuing leading up to his quote, election," McCain told Al-Monitor.
The comments came as the third and final convoy of militants left the Old city of Homs on Thursday, under a deal negotiated with the Syrian government.
The deal was reached between the insurgents and the Syrian government on May 4.
However, around 270 Syrian rebels granted safe exit were being held in Homs by the army after insurgents elsewhere failed to uphold their side of the agreement, Syrian officials said on Friday.
Following a year of siege, around 1,200 rebels and residents in the Old City of Homs left the city on buses this week in exchange for the release of dozens of captives held by rebels in the northern provinces of Aleppo and Latakia.
Officials said rebels had also agreed to allow aid into two northern Shia towns besieged by the opposition, Nubl and al-Zahraa, but as of Friday a convoy of food and medical relief was stuck at insurgent checkpoints outside the towns.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the remaining 270 rebels will only be let out of Homs when the aid reaches Nubl and Zahraa.
They did not specify which groups had prevented the relief from entering. Activists said Syria's al Qaeda offshoot, the Nusra Front, blocked aid convoys to Nubl and Zahraa on Wednesday, but other armed rebels are also active in the area.

Saudis call for indefinite postponement of AL meeting
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia urged the indefinite postponement of an Arab League meeting on Syria that Riyadh itself called, the group's deputy chief Ahmed Ben Helli said on Friday.
According to AFP, the meeting of foreign ministers was originally called for Monday by Riyadh, which backs rebels in the conflict, to discuss "steps that need to be taken to deal with the Syrian tragedy."
But the Saudis have now indefinitely postponed what was originally billed as an emergency gathering that they were going to host without saying why, and no new date has been set for it.
Western and Persian Gulf Arab nations opposed to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad are due to hold their latest meeting in London on May 15 to discuss boosting support for the rebels.
More than 150,000 people are estimated to have been killed in Syria since the start of the armed uprising against Assad in 2011, according to estimates by the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
UN-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said in late March that a resumption of peace talks in Geneva between Damascus and the opposition was currently "out of the question."
Assad's government is preparing for a presidential election which excludes the exiled opposition from taking participating, paving the way for his reelection.

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