Day 1,147: Rebel evacuation of Homs commences

Today is Day 1,147 of the Syria conflict.

The delayed "truce" in Homs has been activated. The deal is for opposition fighters and their families to evacuate the Old City of Homs and for regime forces to take over, but without further killing. As of yesterday the governor of the surrounding province was being very cagey about when this would actually happen, but videos posted to YouTube Wednesday morning showed rebels boarding buses. The BBC reports that "at least two buses have arrived in rebel-held territory to the north, carrying a number of armed fighters."

Even with the surrender, it's hard to see Homs fulfilling the bizarre prediction of Syria's tourism minister yesterday: Bisher Yazigi said Homs needed to get ready for a "prosperous tourist season" and that "various activities are planned ... during the summer."

(If you think "various activities are planned" sounds like language more appropriate for a principal describing an unusually sinister class trip to Six Flags — chaperoned by The Child Catcher — you're not alone. As the AFP report noted drily, "There was no word on what these activities might be.")

Robert Helpmann as "The Child Catcher" in the 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (YouTube)

The top photo on this post and the one below do show business as usual in a government-controlled area of Homs earlier today. Recent photos of the devastation in the Old City are not yet available.

AFP/Getty Images