Dozens of casualties reported in Aleppo bomb blast

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 20, 2017

Reflecting fears of further violence, Amer Burhan, a medical worker from Zabadani, said buses carrying residents from the pro-government areas were held in the opposition areas until the busses carrying rebels had departed.

Some 45 buses carrying 3,000 people left the rebel-besieged Shi'ite villages of al-Foua and Kefraya near Idlib for government-controlled Aleppo, while a convoy of 11 buses left army-besieged al-Zabadani, the Hezbollah media unit said. Dozens of rebel fighters stood guard at the evacuation zone while vehicles were thoroughly searched to prevent another massacre. "I don't know. The circumstances are very hard, but praise be to God".

Under the deal reached between the Syrian government and militants in late March, the residents of Foua and Kefraya will be taken to the outskirts of Aleppo City, while the militants and their families will be transferred from Zabadani and Madaya near Damascus to militant-held territory in Idlib.

As part of the deal, the government also allowed thousands of people to leave two rebel-held towns that regime forces had long besieged.

Zabadani and Madaya "are now empty of any rebel presence", said Mayyada al-Aswad, a member of the coordinating committee for the operation on the government side.

The deal to evacuate the towns was the latest in a string of such agreements, touted by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the best way to end the fighting.

The number of casualties was provided by the General Organization of Radio and TV news correspondent via social media, who classified the blast as a terrorist bombing, Sputnik reported.

Rebels say they amount to forced relocation after years of bombardment and siege.

The deal, now in its first stage, has been repeatedly delayed.

SANA reported that the same convoy hit in the attack continued on to regime-held parts of Aleppo.

The United Nations says 4.72 million Syrians are in hard-to-reach areas, including 600,000 people under siege, mostly by the Syrian army, but also by rebels or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. More than half of the population have been forced from their homes.

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