Major U.N. peace conference in Switzerland

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Meqdad addresses the media after a meeting at the Geneva Conference on Syria at the UN in Geneva

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The United Nations on Friday halted the evacuation of civilians from the blockaded city of Homs until the fate of men detained from the rebel-held areas becomes clear, a senior U.N. official said.

The development came just a day after a cease-fire was extended for three more days, the second such extension since the truce first went into effect last week. Hundreds more civilians are believed to still be trapped in rebel-held parts of the city, mostly in the medieval quarter known as Old Homs.

Matthew Hollingworth, deputy U.N. team leader for the Homs mission, told The Associated Press by telephone from Damascus that dozens of men and boys aged 15 to 55 — who left Old Homs earlier during the evacuation — are still being held and questioned by Syrian authorities.

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