At least 100 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Syria that struck a bus convoy evacuating people from besieged villages, after a deal between Syria’s warring sides stalled. The incident reportedly happened near Aleppo. The blast ripped through a bus depot in the al-Rashideen area where thousands of government loyalists evacuated the day before waited restlessly for hours, as opposition fighters guarded the area while negotiators bickered over the completion of the transfer deal.
Due to a delay in the agreement had left those thousands of people evacuated stuck at two transit points on Aleppo’s outskirts since late on Friday. A suicide bomber blew himself up near the coaches. The explosion shattered the buses and set cars on fire, leaving a trail of bodies. Hundreds of people are said to have been injured.
The convoy was carrying residents and pro-government fighters from the Shi’ite villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, which are besieged by rebels in nearby Idlib province, an insurgent stronghold.
International media reports suggest that the volunteers of the Syrian Civil Defence pulled at least 100 bodies from the site of the explosion.
Syrian state media said at least 39 were killed, including children. Monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 43, adding that it would likely rise because of the extensive damage.
Following the deadly attack, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and issued a statement calling on all parties “to ensure the safety and security of those waiting to be evacuated.