Thousands expected to be evacuated in Syria after blast

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 21, 2017

Buses carrying thousands of refugees stuck by roadside in rebel-held RashidinBEIRUT The death toll in a suicide car-bomb attack on buses carrying Syrians evacuated from two besieged governmentheld towns has risen to at least 112, a monitoring group said on Sunday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which the Syrian government media said was carried out by a suicide vehicle bomber.

The United Nations is not overseeing the transfer deal, which involves residents of the pro-government villages of al-Foua and Kfarya and the opposition-held towns of Madaya and Zabadani.

"Dozens" have reportedly been killed in a bomb blast near buses waiting to evacuate people in northern Syria. The rest were aid workers and rebels guarding the convoy.

The undamaged buses from the convoy continued Saturday and arrived in the evening at a temporary housing center in the Jebrin area of Aleppo.

"This continuing infernal cycle of such extreme violence underlines yet again the urgent need for practical progress towards peace in Syria to end the bloodshed", said WCC general secretary Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit on hearing of the attack. "They were evacuating under a deal contingent on residents of two pro-rebel towns being allowed to evacuate".

The blast ripped through a group of buses carrying about 5,000 Shi'ite residents of the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province, which rebel forces have placed under siege.

One of the media reports has claimed that at least 43 people have been killed.

Abdul Rahman said he doesn't believe the Syrian regime is behind the attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, though the key Ahrar al-Sham rebel group denied any involvement.

Madaya and Zabadani, once summer resorts to Damascus, have been shattered under the cruelty of a government siege. Many people felt that they had been forced to leave, he said. Residents of Foua and Kfraya, besieged by the rebels, have lived under a steady hail of rockets and mortars for years, but were supplied with food and medicine through military airdrops.

Syrian children have been subject to extreme suffering and trauma throughout the country's more than six-year civil war.

About 20,000 besieged people were to have been evacuated.

"Those responsible for today's attack must be brought to justice", the statement added.

A spokesman for Guterres has condemned the attack in Rashideen, and called on all parties involved in the evacuation agreement to ensure the safety of those waiting to be transported.

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