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February 09, 2014 AT 10:30 AM
Hundreds of civilians were evacuated Sunday from the besieged Syrian city of Homs, braving gunmen spraying bullets and lobbing mortar shells to flee as part of a rare three-day truce to relieve a choking blockade. The cease-fire came as Syrian officials arrived in Switzerland for a new round of United Nations-mediated talks with opposition activists in exile to try negotiate an end to Syria's three-year conflict. Governor Talal Barrazi said more than 600 people were evacuated from Homs on Sunday. The operation is part of a U.N.-mediated truce that began Friday between the government of President Bashar Assad and armed rebels to allow thousands of women, children and elderly men to leave opposition-held parts of the city, and to permit the entry of food and supplies.