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'Religion classes' for 200 men from Syria's Homs: governor

Civilians from besieged areas of Homs are seen in a shelter in al-Andalus school, in an area under government control, in Homs February 14, 2014, in this handout released by Syria's national news agency SANA. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

DAMASCUS: Nearly 200 men evacuated from Syria's Homs city and held by security services will receive religion classes to "modify their incorrect interpretation of Islam", the provincial governor said Saturday.

Talal Barazi told AFP the 179 men in custody would receive religious instruction, along with support sessions from psychologists.

"Over a period of four days, while their files are being examined by the competent authorities, those who are still being held will receive religious instruction to modify their incorrect interpretation of Islam," he said.

He added that psychologists and sociologists would "offer their support to help with rehabilitation and members of the UN will give them courses on human rights".

Barazi said 179 boys and men aged between 15 and 55 were being held after operations to evacuate civilians from besieged areas of the Old City of Homs in central Syria.

He said a total of 390 fighting-age males had left Homs, with 211 released so far.

On Thursday, the UN said that 430 men and boys had been detained in all, with just 181 released so far.

The UN has expressed concern about the fate of the male evacuees, warning on Friday that Syria was on watch over their fate.

"We are consistently and continually calling on the government to ensure the safety and security of these people and to respect international and human rights law," UN refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told reporters.

Humanitarian operations that began last week have so far evacuated around 1,400 people from areas of Homs under a tight army siege for more than 18 months.

The United Nations and Red Crescent have also distributed hundreds of food parcels to those who remain in the Old City.

Barazi said Saturday that "most of the humanitarian aid has been distributed", but was unable to specify whether aid distribution or evacuation of civilians would continue.

Before the operation began, an estimated 3,000 people were trapped inside rebel-held areas of the Old City, many surviving on olives and wild plants as food supplies dwindled.

 

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Summary

Nearly 200 men evacuated from Syria's Homs city and held by security services will receive religion classes to "modify their incorrect interpretation of Islam", the provincial governor said Saturday.

Barazi said 179 boys and men aged between 15 and 55 were being held after operations to evacuate civilians from besieged areas of the Old City of Homs in central Syria.

Humanitarian operations that began last week have so far evacuated around 1,400 people from areas of Homs under a tight army siege for more than 18 months.


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