Hundreds of Syrian rebels began withdrawing from parts of the besieged center of Homs city, under a cease-fire deal which hands back control to the government less than a month before Syria's presidential elections.
Buses carrying rebel fighters and civilians began leaving the Old City Wednesday as part of the deal struck between government forces, rebels, and opposition activists.
Video footage showed a group of fighters boarding buses, many carrying their weapons , and later arriving at rebel-held towns.
The evacuation of the city, once called "the capital of the revolution," is a blow to rebels who vowed to fight there until the end. They agreed to leave after months of bombardments and blockades that caused massive damage, casualties and widespread hunger.
Rebels also agreed to ease their siege and allow aid into two Shiite majority towns in northern Syria, as well as release some captives.
Once the evacuation is complete, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad will control almost all of Homs city, except for the rebel-held Waer district. But activists and officials say negotiations are under way for a similar evacuation deal there.
At least 150,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war. It began in March 2011 as protests against President Bashar al-Assad.
Officials say Mr. Assad and two other candidates will compete in the country's June 3 presidential election.
The president is widely expected to win.