Syrian TV Says Dozens Killed in Blast Near Evacuation Buses

Posted April 17, 2017

Madaya and Zabadani have been under the control of anti-government fighters but facing siege from forces loyal to the regime. He said the area was walled off from all sides and there were no restrooms.

At the time, the USA officials said al-Hakim was believed to be linked to the 2015 attacks at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, mentoring the brothers who gunned down the cartoonists at the French paper in 2015. Afandar said people were not allowed to leave the buses for a while before they were let out.

The explosion hit the Rashideen area, a rebel-controlled district outside Aleppo city where evacuation buses carrying almost 5,000 people from the northern rebel-besieged villages of Foua and Kfraya were stuck, causing a huge plume of black smoke. Food was distributed after several hours and by early afternoon the evacuees from rebel-held areas were "pressured" to sit back on their buses, Afandar said.

A senior Russian diplomat says the United States and Russia are again exchanging information on a hotline created to prevent midair incidents over Syria, but that the formal agreement on such exchanges has not been renewed.

Al-Ikhbariya TV said 48 wounded were transported in exchange for allowing five buses of residents from opposition areas head toward a rebel-controlled province. He added it was not clear how many rebels were killed because they were evacuated to their areas. White Helmets member Ibrahim Alhaj said the 100 fatalities documented by the rescuers included many children and women, as well as fighters.

Al-Manar TV said the buses were to replace those damaged by the blast. 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.

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Syrian state TV blamed the rebels for obstructing the deal, causing thousands of evacuees to be stuck in bus depots overnight.

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

The agreements are also causing demographic changes, they say, because those who are displaced are mostly Sunni Muslims, while Mr Assad is from the Alawite religious minority, often considered an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

A blast in southern Aleppo on Saturday hit buses ferrying Syrian people evacuated from two besieged regime-held towns, a Turkish aid worker has confirmed, APA reports quoting Anadolu agency.

Rami Abdurrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the Syrian government and rebels who negotiated the deal have differed over the evacuation of gunmen from the towns.

The Syrian government said the vehicle had been supposedly carrying aid to the evacuees, while rebels claim the auto was stationary and had been parked near the stalled convoy.