Syrian bus convoy hit by blast, several reported killed or injured
- Author: Leroy Wright Apr 16, 2017,
Apr 16, 2017, 2:44
According to Reuters, a military media unit, operated by Hezbollah, has said a suicide attacker detonated a auto bomb Saturday.
In the latest deal, hundreds of rebels and their families left the town of Madaya near Damascus, and were taken on buses to the government-held city of Aleppo.
Before the blast, Syrian TV showed dozens of buses carrying thousands of people from pro-government areas Foua and Kafriya, and opposition areas Madaya and Zabadani, parked on the edge of Aleppo city, separated by walls.
Pictures posted on state media showed what appeared to be the aftermath of the explosion, with bodies lying on the ground and fires belching out thick black plumes of smoke.
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.
Thousands of Syrians were stuck in and around Aleppo on Saturday as a deal to evacuate fighters and civilians from four towns as part of a coordinated population swap stalled, according to a monitor and activists.
Late on Saturday buses began crossing into both government-held and rebel-held territory from the two transit points as the deal resumed, pro-Damascus media and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported.
The blast hit buses in the Rashidin area on Aleppo's outskirts, which had been waiting to cross from rebel-held territory into the government-controlled city itself, carrying people evacuated from two Shiite villages on Friday. Afandar said people were not allowed to leave the buses for a while before they were let out.
The population transfer deal has been criticized by opponents as forced displacement and was not overseen by the United Nations.
A pro-opposition activist said insurgents blamed the delay partly on the fact that a smaller number of pro-government fighters had left the Shia villages than was agreed.
The waiting passengers spent the night on their buses in Ramusa, where the Red Crescent also distributed food and water, Amjad al-Maleh told AFP by telephone.
Salloum Salloum, a lawmaker speaking on the pro-government al-Ikhbariya TV channel, said efforts are underway to resolve the problem, accusing the rebels of adding new conditions to the deal.
They are also causing demographic changes because those who are displaced are usually Sunni Muslims, like most of the opposition.
He has been backed militarily by Russian Federation, and by Shiah fighters from Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group in Syria's six-year-old conflict.