The central city of Homs was once known as the "capital of the revolution" against Syria's Bashar al-Assad, notes the BBC. No more: Buses began evacuating fighters and anti-government civilians from some of their last strongholds today, a move that marks "a de-facto end of the rebellion in the battered city," according to the AP. Those leaving have been holed up in about a dozen neighborhoods, trapped by blockades and steady bombardment from government troops. The evacuation is part of a UN-brokered ceasefire after a two-year siege dubbed "surrender or starve" by Syrian army officers. But rebels leave embittered, with one telling the BBC that "the rest of the world failed us."
"We are very sad for what is happening today," says one opposition activist. "We kept urging the international community to lift the siege but there was no response." The government now controls all of Homs save for one last district, and negotiations were reportedly under way for a similar ceasefire and evacuation there. The developments come ahead of elections on June 3 in which Assad is running for re-election as president.