Monday, 11 December, 2017

Syrian TV says dozens killed in blast near evacuation buses

Erik Tate | 16 April, 2017, 03:12

The rebel group Ahrar al-Sham tweeted that some of its members died in the blast.

It warned that the death toll was likely to rise given the "several dozen wounded" at the blast site.

The deal to evacuate the towns is the latest in a string of such agreements through Syria's six-year civil war. They were being evacuated as part of a population transfer that had stalled as government representatives bickered with rebels.

The coordinated evacuations delivered war-weary fighters and residents from two years of siege and hunger, but moved Syria closer to a division of its national population by loyalty and sect.

Those killed included civilians as well as rebel fighters.

Some 30,000 people are being relocated from two rebel-held towns and two under government control but, according to AFP news agency, up to 5,000 government evacuees and 2,200 from rebel towns are now stranded. A war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says 43 were killed in the blast that hit the al-Rashidin area, on the edge of Aleppo city.

At least 39 people were killed and many others were injured in an explosion that hit near buses carrying evacuees from a besieged area of government loyalists.

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The much criticized deal is to transfer thousands from besieged pro-government and anti-government areas.

A bomb blast hit a bus convoy waiting to cross into government-held Aleppo in Syria on Saturday, killing and wounding dozens of people evacuated from two Shi'ite villages the day before in a deal between warring sides.The agreement had stalled, leaving thousands of people from both government-besieged and rebel-besieged areas stranded at two transit points on the city's outskirts, before the explosion occurred.Pro-Damascus media outlets said a suicide attacker detonated a auto bomb and killed at least 22 people.

The state TV channel said the explosion was caused by a auto bomb.

Very graphic footage from the scene posted online shows burned out vehicles with the dead lying on the ground and inside buses, some covered with blankets.

The buses were carrying almost 5,000 people from Foua and Kfraya, villages in northern Syria that have been besieged by rebels.

They were evacuated Friday, along with more than 2,000 from Madaya, a town outside of Damascus which was besieged by government forces. Afandar said people were not allowed to leave the buses for a while before they were let out. A photo carried by al-Ikhbariya state TV showed a number of bodies strewn on the floor with a huge plume of black smoke rising in the background.

Meanwhile residents and pro-government fighters who had left the two rebel-besieged Shi'ite villages in Idlib province waited still in insurgent territory on Aleppo's outskirts to cross into the city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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