Hundreds of Syrian rebels on Wednesday abandoned their last stronghold in the heart of Homs city, an epicenter of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, handing him a symbolic victory weeks before his likely re-election.

Two convoys of buses snaked their way through the crumbling ruins of the besieged city, taking the fighters to safety in rebel-held areas outside the city under a deal agreed between the insurgents and forces loyal to Assad.

The Sunni Muslim fighters had held out in the Old City of Homs and neighboring districts despite being undersupplied, outgunned and subjected to more than a year of siege and bombardment by Assad’s forces. […]