An extract from an account by Sam Dagher of The Wall Street Journal of the evacuation of the Old City of Homs, in which at least 900 people have been moved since last Friday:
Tensions were on display again Monday as soldiers and officers from the regime’s myriad security branches as well as members of the NDF tried to enter a makeshift receiving center near the front line, where those evacuated were first brought.
They wanted to photograph, film and interrogate many of the military-age men evacuated. Some of the pro-regime force members slipped into the receiving center wearing civilian clothes. Others in military fatigues and carrying arms also demanded they be let in.
This prompted a rare outburst by Homs Governor Talal al Barazi, who shouted at them to move away and even threatened to have them arrested by their commanders.
“What’s wrong with you? This is the United Nations. We have been getting calls from Geneva,” screamed Mr. Barazi, referring to the city where a second round of U.N.-mediated peace talks between the regime and opposition started Monday.
Dozens of men between the ages of 15 and 54 who had been evacuated by the U.N. were taken Monday to a school in a regime-controlled section of city, according to a provincial official. The day before, 130 men and their families who came out of old Homs were taken to the same school, said the U.N.
All will be interrogated by Syrian security forces. Those wanted for alleged killings and kidnappings will be detained and tried while those only suspected of links to the rebels will receive amnesty if they renounce armed activities in writing, according to Syrian officials.
The U.N. confirmed this was part of its deal with the regime to win approval for the relief mission.
Pro-regime militiamen in military fatigues and carrying cameras were taking videos and photographs of every male coming off the U.N.-escorted buses to the receiving center—an abandoned banquet hall near the front line. The men were greeted with slurs by regime forces as U.N. and Syrian Arab Red Crescent workers tried their best to shield those coming off the buses.
The situation was even worse the day before with several U.N. aid workers saying they had to step in to stop pro-regime soldiers from attacking or beating men coming out of old Homs.
“I cannot be a witness to such treatment,” shouted one U.N. aid worker, who said he saw pro-regime soldiers slap and beat with the butts of their rifles a group of male evacuees.
A Syrian security officer tried to calm the U.N. employee by assuring him these were just “individual mistakes.”