Bus bombing hits Syria's Homs, five dead: state media

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Most of Homs is held by the Syrian government, with the exception of the Waer district, where the last phase of an evacuation is under way under a deal

A bomb attack on a bus in Syria's third city Homs killed five people and wounded at least seven on Wednesday, state media reported.

The blast hit a small bus carrying passengers in the Al-Zahraa neighbourhood, which has repeatedly been targeted in bombings.

Most of the neighbourhood's residents belong to the same Alawite religious sect as President Bashar al-Assad.

In December, four people were killed in a blast at a Red Crescent centre in the neighbourhood, and in February a double bomb attack claimed by the Islamic State group killed 57 people.

Interviewed on state television, Homs governor Talal Barazi said four of those killed were female students heading to university on the bus.

Most of Homs is held by the government, with the exception of the Waer district, where the last phase of an evacuation is under way under a deal between the government and rebels.

Three waves of rebels and their families had already left Waer under an agreement first reached in December 2015, but subsequent evacuations stalled before a new deal was reached earlier this month.

The neighbourhood has been subject to a siege and bombardment by the army.

Rebel groups criticise so-called "reconciliation" deals like that agreed in Waer, saying they are forced into them by siege tactics.

But the government has touted the deals, which grant safe passage to rebels and their families in exchange for surrender of territory, as the best way to end the six-year civil war.

Homs was once dubbed the "capital of the revolution" because of the large-scale protests held in the city when the uprising began in March 2011.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in the conflict and millions driven from their homes.