Families return home in central Syria for first time since 2013

DAMASCUS (Xinhua) – Tens of families returned to check their homes in the town of Al Qusayr in central Syria yesterday, the first batch of civilians back to the town since it was liberated from the rebels in 2013.

Holding posters of President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian flags, the civilians entered the town in the countryside of Homs province in central Syria and surrounding villages to check on their homes.

Governor of Homs Talal Barazi, who was receiving the people in the town, told reporters that after the surrounding areas of the town were liberated from the Islamic State (IS) militants and like-minded groups, the government started clearing off the roads and restoring the infrastructure.

About 70 per cent of the infrastructure was fixed as other parts of the town are severely damaged, he said.

Some logistic preparations have also been made to secure the town, he said, noting that it is an important economic area in the Homs province.

The governor said there is a plan to restore three schools in three months by the start of the next education year.

The Al Qusayr area is considered of strategic importance because it lies between the capital Damascus and the Mediterranean coast, and is close to the Lebanese border. On April 4, 2013, the Syrian army launched an offensive against al-Qusayr, with the aim of capturing all villages around the rebel-held town and eventually the town itself.

On June 5, 2013, the Syrian army finally regained control of al-Qusayr.

Governor Barazi said there will be more people returning to the town, adding that more than 130 families have so far returned to the city of Palmyra in the countryside of Homs so far.

He said that people are returning to their homes even from neighbouring Lebanon, adding that 17 batches of the Syrian refugees have returned home in Homs from Lebanon.