BBC Online : The first group of civilians is due to be evacuated from the besieged city of Homs in Syria, as a pause in fighting has begun. Some 200 people will be picked up by buses, the governor of Homs told the BBC. Up to 3,000 are believed to be trapped in the city. The UN-negotiated ceasefire between Syrian forces and rebels should also allow aid to reach Homs on Saturday. Parts of Homs Old City have been under army siege since June 2012. Many neighbourhoods lie in ruins and activists say people have survived on little more than olives for weeks. The situation in besieged districts of Homs was discussed during peace talks in Geneva a week ago. Another round is due to begin on 10 February and the Syrian government has confirmed it will attend. The governor of Homs, Talal Barazi, said the first group to leave Homs would include women, children under the age of 15, and men over 55. He described the atmosphere as “positive” ahead of the planned evacuation, which was running slightly behind schedule because of logistic hitches. “We hope this first step will succeed and will continue tomorrow and after tomorrow, to ensure safe exit to all civilians who want to leave the Old City,” he said. Farhan Haq, spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said earlier that supplies were positioned on the outskirts of Homs “ready for immediate delivery as soon as the green light was given by the parties for safe passage”. Aid staff were also on standby, he said. The Syrian foreign ministry said that under the deal – reached between the governor of Homs and the UN resident co-ordinator in Syria – “innocent civilians” would be allowed out of besieged areas. “We are very happy that finally we found the possibility to bring out these people and to provide those who are needy inside old Homs with humanitarian aid they deserve,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad said. “The only precondition is that this aid and the help should not go to terrorists or armed groups.” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki welcomed the agreement but said an evacuation was “not a substitute for the safe, regular and unfettered delivery of humanitarian assistance”. “We should not be giving credit to a regime just for providing food for a few days to people who are starving, given that’s the right moral thing to do,” she said. “This is something they should have been doing all along.” Homs – Syria’s third largest city – has been a key battleground in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Much of the city initially fell under rebel fighters’ control, but government forces have since retaken many areas, forcing the opposition into the Old City. The UN says more than 100,000 people have died since the uprising began.