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UN Watching Fate of 200 Men from Homs, But Powerless

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The U.N.-backed ceasefire in the embattled Syrian Old City of Homs continued Wednesday, with about 200 more civilians evacuated.

U.N. officials are increasingly concerned about the fate of some 200 men of military age who were part of the evacuation and are now being questioned by Syrian security officials at a local school.

The Syrian authorities say they are interrogating the men to weed out “terrorists.” But with no neutral, third-party like the United Nations or the International Red Cross monitoring the regime’s screening of the men, diplomats and aid officials are worried about their safety.

Hom’s governor Talal al-Barazi told Reuters that the ceasefire, which was set to expire late Wednesday, may be extended.

"If we see that it is appropriate and there is a need for the extension we will study it with the United Nations and request the extension for an additional period," he said by telephone.

President Bashar Assad’s government troops have besieged Homs for over 18 months.

Over 1,300 civilians have now, been evacuated from the Old City of Homs since Friday, but hundreds remain trapped inside. About 200 packages of flour, rice, vegetable oil and other essentials were sent into the city as the civilians left Wednesday.