Thousands of evacuated Syrians stuck as transfer stalls

16 April, 2017, 00:47 | Author: Gregory Stephens

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 blast took place near an area where buses carrying almost 5,000 people from Foua and Kfraya, villages in northern Syria was besieged by rebels, Associated Press reported.

State TV in Damascus suggested that the blast was caused by a suicide attacker detonating a auto bomb.

The buses had been waiting since late on Friday outside the city while the evacuation deal halted. 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. "Apparently it happened in an area where the sick and the injured were either being transferred or swapped", Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid said, reporting from Antakya in Turkey.

He said the area was walled off from all sides and there were no toilets. The government blamed the rebels for the attack.

Pictures on social media showed the apparent aftermath of the blast, with bodies lying on the ground and blackened buses with windows blown out.


"Terrorists are not letting people flee from the territory toward Aleppo and are preventing evacuation of Fua and Kefraya residents [from militants-held Rashidin neighborhood near Aleppo]", the source said.

Syrian rescue workers who operate in opposition areas say at least 100 people were killed in a blast that ripped through a bus depot where evacuees waited to be transferred to government areas.

Earlier on Saturday, at the transit point where the buses from al-Foua and Kefraya were waiting, one resident said he was not yet sure where he would live.

Syria´s war has left more than 320,000 people dead since erupting in 2011, with more than half the population forced from their homes and hundreds of thousands trapped under siege. Another spokesman for one of the rebel groups that negotiated the deal said it is scarcely believable that the rebels would target their own fighters in such an attack.

A resident of Zabadani, another rebel-held town to be evacuated, reportedly said that in last few days no evacuation has taken place from there.

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