People waiting to be evacuated gather near damaged buildings at a besieged area of Homs February 12, 2014. (REUTERS/Yazan Homsy)
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Fighters remaining inside besieged Old Homs and human rights workers say they fear an imminent government military onslaught aimed at eliminating the rebel-stronghold after a U.N.-brokered cease-fire and evacuation deal concludes.Over 1,400 people, mostly civilians, have been evacuated from Old Homs since last Friday after an agreement was reached with the Syrian government to provide humanitarian access to the neighborhoods, besieged for over 18 months. Some 2,500 people were believed to have been holed up in Old Homs, one of the last rebel-bastions remaining in the city after government forces retook most of the city in mid-2013 . The conditions of the deal have led some fighters inside Old Homs to conclude that the evacuation amounted to no more than a tightening of the siege against the rebels remaining, as part of a broader military strategy aimed to eliminate them.One opposition fighter inside Old Homs told The Daily Star this week he was unwilling to risk arrest by leaving, despite fearing an imminent government assault. Fighters battling Assad forces in the nearby Qalamoun region south of Homs told The Daily Star those inside the Old City, anticipating an onslaught, had requested assistance.Abu Hussein said the fighters inside Old Homs, with "no choice" but to fight on, had requested military assistance.
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