The UN coordinator in Syria, Yaacub El Hillo confirmed Friday that more than 80 women, children and elderly men had been allowed to leave the Old City of Homs after surviving more than 600 days under army siege. This was the first stage of an evacuation of civilians expected to number several hundred. Large areas of the city, dubbed “the capital of the revolution” have been reduced to rubble. The Syrian government has meanwhile confirmed it will join a new round of peace talks next week.