Published: Sun, April 16, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

More than 100 killed in Syria blast, say White Helmets

About 100 people were killed Saturday in a vehicle bomb explosion targeting pro-regime evacuees leaving besieged Syrian towns, a volunteer rescue agency said.

The Syrian Civil Defense in Aleppo province, also known as the White Helmets, said their volunteers pulled at least 100 bodies from the site of the explosion.

The conflict monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the explosion appeared to be a bomb.

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.

It was not immediately clear if rebels were killed in the blast.

Al-Ikhbariya TV said 48 wounded were transported in exchange for allowing five buses of residents from opposition areas head toward a rebel-controlled province.

Rami Abdurrahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says the Syrian government and rebels who negotiated the deal have disagreed over the terms for the evacuation of gunmen from the towns. Food was distributed after several hours and by early afternoon the evacuees from rebel-held areas were "pressured" to sit back on their buses, Afandar said.

"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.

The evacuees, from the mainly pro-regime Shia villages of Al-Fu'ah and Kafriya, were bound for regime-held parts of Aleppo.

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He said the area was walled off from all sides and there were no toilets.

The population transfer deal has been criticized by opponents as forced displacement and was not overseen by the United Nations.

People waiting in the Ramousah garage heard the blast, and said they feared revenge attacks by pro-government forces.

Syrian TV said at least 39 people were killed in an explosion that hit near buses carrying evacuees from two towns besieged by rebels nearby.

Syria state TV said the transfer later resumed.

A rebel official confirmed there had been disagreement over the number of opposition fighters allowed to leave Madaya and Zabadani.

It is still unclear who carried out the bombing attack, but tensions had been heightened after an evacuation deal had been halted, leaving those in transit in danger. They were evacuated Friday, along with more than 2,000 from Madaya, a town outside of Damascus which was besieged by government forces.

A resident of Zabadani - another rebel-held town to be evacuated - Amer Burhan says no evacuation had even taken place from there.

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