Car bomb kills at least 39 Syria evacuees

Apr 17, 2017, 05:39
Car bomb kills at least 39 Syria evacuees

Almost 40 people have lost their lives and several others sustained injuries when a powerful bomb explosion struck near several buses carrying people from two Shia-majority villages in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, as they were waiting to enter the city of Aleppo.

The explosion Saturday was caused by a vehicle bomb, according to Syrian TV and the opposition Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, causing massive destruction.

A British-based Syrian Observatory Human Rights group said that the Syrian government and rebels differed in last minute and the negotiation ended.

The explosion hit an area where buses carrying almost 5,000 people from Foua and Kfraya, villages in northern Syria that have been besieged by rebels.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack but pro-government media and the opposition exchanged accusations, each pointing to foreign interference or conspiracies undermining the deal.

They had left under a deal where, in exchange, hundreds of Sunni insurgents and their families were granted safe passage from Madaya, a government-besieged town near Damascus.

State-owned Arabic daily Tishreen said the explosion took place as children were collecting food being distributed at the stop point.

The blast ripped through a bus depot in the al-Rashideen area where thousands of government loyalists evacuated the day before waited restlessly for hours, as opposition fighters guarded the area while negotiators bickered over the completion of the transfer deal.

A senior rebel leader said 20 fighters who guarded the buses were killed as well as dozens of passengers.

In footage aired on Syrian TV, bodies, including fighters, were seen lying alongside buses, some of which were charred and others gutted from the blast.

It was unclear who carried out Saturday's bombing attack.

They were evacuated Friday, along with more than 2,000 from Madaya, a town outside of Damascus which was besieged by government forces.

The deals are unpopular with the Syrian opposition, who say they amount to forced displacement of Assad's opponents from Syria's main urban centers in the west of the country.

The explosion came as frustration was already mounting over the stalling evacuation process. My house, land and belongings are all in al-Foua", Mehdi Tahhan said.A Madaya resident, speaking from the bus garage inside Aleppo, said people had been waiting there since late on Friday, and were not being allowed to leave."There's no drinking water or food. "All these thousands of people are stuck in less than half a kilometer (500 yards)".

People waiting in the Ramousah garage heard the blast, and said they feared revenge attacks by pro-government forces.

An AFP correspondent in Rashidin, where 5,000 evacuees from the two government-held towns were awaiting onward transport, said the buses had yet to move 30 hours after the operation began.

The bombing took place as thousands of evacuees from Fuaa and Kafraya waited to continue their journey to regime-controlled Aleppo, the coastal province of Latakia, or Damascus.

An opposition representative, Ali Diab, accused the government side of violating the terms of the agreement, by evacuating fewer armed men than agreed to from the pro-government areas.