70 killed as suicide bomber targets transit point for Syrian evacuees
Damascus : At least 70 people were and 128 others wounded in a blast on Saturday targeting the gathering point of buses transporting Shiites evacuating from two pro-government towns in northern Syria.
The blast, carried out by a suicide bomber driving a booby-trapped potato truck, rocked the rebel-held Rashideen area in the countryside of Aleppo province, where buses carrying 5,000 pro-government Shiite people were waiting the reactivation of a deal designed to secure their transportation to government-controlled area in Aleppo, Xinhua reported.
The deal, recently reached between the rebels and the government under the supervision of Iran, Turkey and Qatar, was designed to secure the evacuation of the people from the pro-government Shiite towns of Kafraya and Foa in Idlib province toward government areas in Aleppo province.
In return, the government will allow rebels and their families to leave the rebel-held towns of Madaya and Zabadani in northern Damascus to reach Idlib province.
The evacuation started on Friday, with 5,000 Shiite people leaving Kafaraya and Foa and 2,300 rebels and their families leaving the town of Madaya as first batches.
The Shiite people reached the rebel-held town of Rashideen, while the rebels reached the government-controlled Ramouseh crossing in Aleppo.
Both convoys were set to leave to their respective destinations, before the rebels in Rashideen held the convoy of the Shiite people, adding new demands to the original deal.
The rebel convoy was also stuck at Ramouseh, amid reports that communications were underway to continue the implementation of the deal.
A source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the rebels' new demand was the evacuation of the Shiite fighters first from Kafraya and Foa, before the civilians.
But the demand was rejected as there is a fear that if the Shiite fighters, who are defending the towns, left the towns first the rebels could attack the towns and commit massacres there.
Now, there is a state of extreme dismay among the evacuees from Kafraya and Foa.
An eye witness from those waiting in Rashideen told Xinhua that three people with medical conditions died while waiting, before the explosion.
He added that three women gave birth inside the busses amid tough humanitarian situation as those people have been waiting there for 24 hours without enough food or water.