BEIRUT - About 200 people are expected to leave a besieged area of the Syrian city of Homs on Friday in the first stage of a humanitarian deal to evacuate civilians and allow aid to be delivered, a regional official said.

Speaking to Syrian state television, Homs governor Talal al-Barazi said the atmosphere was "positive" ahead of the operation which is expected to begin around midday and allow women, children and elderly to leave the besieged old city.

The United Nations welcomed reports of the agreement on Thursday, although Washington questioned the sincerity of the government's intentions.


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