Protests delay Syria truce evacuations: monitor

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Efforts to evacuate civilians as part of a six-month truce in flashpoint Syrian villages stalled Saturday when protesters blocked a key route, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Dozens of men... cut off the road that was to be used to evacuate civilians from Fuaa and Kafraya,” the last two regime-held villages in northwest Idlib province, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

A UN-brokered ceasefire deal to include Fuaa, Kafraya and Zabadani - the only remaining rebel bastion along Syria's border with Lebanon - was reached Thursday between warring parties in Syria.

The agreement included the withdrawal of rebel fighters from Zabadani to Idlib, in exchange for the evacuation of 10,000 civilians from Fuaa and Kafraya.

“The evacuations were supposed to start this morning, but they have been delayed until tomorrow or the next day,” Abdel Rahman told AFP on Saturday.

Young men from the town of Saraqeb blocked the road that Syria’s Red Crescent would have used to escort civilians out of Fuaa and Kafraya and south into regime-controlled territory in Hama province, he said.

“Some of them were protesting the fact that Saraqeb was not included in the ceasefire, and others were protesting the ceasefire as a whole,” he added.

Held by opposition fighters, Saraqeb is regularly bombarded by the Syrian regime's military aircraft.

On Saturday alone, at least six regime air raids struck the town, the Observatory said.

Elsewhere in Syria, seven civilians were killed when regime forces fired a missile on a neighborhood in the central city of Homs on Saturday.

The Observatory said most of those killed were children, and that dozens more were wounded.