Syria auto bomb explosion kills 100 people fleeing for Aleppo

Residents from Kefraya and Foua were to be transferred government-controlled Jibrin, while those from Madaya and Zabadani were heading towards the rebel-held Idlib province.

The convoy was carrying residents and pro-government fighters from the rebel-besieged Shi'ite villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in nearby Idlib province.

A rebel fighter stands near buses carrying people who were evacuated from villages in Aleppo after a stall in an agreement between rebels and Syria's army.

The huge vehicle bomb on Saturday came as a much criticised population transfer deal stalled as the government and rebels bickered over who should be evacuated.

"Everyone is tense here; we feel like the attacks could start at any time", said one man, asking that his name be withheld to protect the security of family members still in Madaya.

At least 100 people have been killed in the blast near evacuation buses outside Aleppo city, the Syrian opposition rescue service has said. The Syrian government and rebels began a coordinated population transfer Friday of about 10,000 people from four towns besieged for years amid the country's bloody, six-year civil war.

The blasts hit the buses in the Rashdin area of Aleppo's outskirts and are believed to have been perpetrated by anti-government insurgents. "All these thousands of people are stuck in less than half a kilometre (500 yards)". In a footage aired by a local network - Syrian TV - bodies were strewn outside buses, including fighters. They are also causing demographic changes because those who are displaced are usually Sunni Muslims, like most of the opposition. They were evacuated Friday, along with more than 2,000 from Madaya, a town outside of Damascus which was besieged by government forces. According to the deal, more than 2,000 residents, activists and gunmen from areas besieged by government forces were also evacuated. But during the last minute, the government and rebels disagreed over the number of gunmen to be evacuated, the buses were left stuck at two separate parts, and adjacent parts of the city. It was not immediately clear if al-Hakim was the same French national USA officials said was killed in an airstrike in Syria in November 2016.

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

In one video from the site, a shaken reporter said the dead included civilians as well as rebel fighters from the area in which the blast had taken place.

  • Leroy Wright