BEIRUT – The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):
Syrian TV says at least 39 people were killed Saturday in an explosion that hit near buses carrying people evacuated from a besieged area of government loyalists. A war monitor puts the death toll at 24 in the area controlled by opposition fighters.
The explosion Saturday was caused by a car bomb, according to Syrian TV and the opposition Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, causing massive destruction. In footage aired on Syrian TV, bodies were strewn outside buses, including fighters. Some buses were charred and other gutted from the explosion as belongings hanged out of windows.
The explosion hit an area where buses carrying nearly 5,000 people from Foua and Kfraya, villages in northern Syria that have been besieged by rebels. They were evacuated Friday, along with more than 2,000 from Madaya, a town outside of Damascus which was besieged by government forces.
Syrian state TV says a car bomb has exploded near buses carrying Syrians evacuated from towns besieged by rebels in northern Syria.
State TV and an opposition monitoring group say the car bomb left an undetermined number of people killed. A photo carried by al-Ikhbariya state TV showed a number of bodies strewn on the floor with a huge plume of black smoke rising in the background.
The buses carrying nearly 5,000 pro-government evacuees have been stuck in an area on the edge of Aleppo city, as a much criticized population transfer deal stalls. According to the deal, more than 2,000 residents, activists and gunmen from areas besieged by government forces were also evacuated. But as the government and rebels disagreed over the number of gunmen to be evacuated, the buses were left stuck at two separate parts, but adjacent parts of the city.
Activists and residents say thousands of Syrians evacuated from their besieged towns have spent the night on buses at an exchange point as a much criticized population transfer deal stalls.
Ahmed Afandar, a resident evacuated from his hometown near Madaya, says dozens of buses carrying children, women and men are not allowed to proceed toward rebel-held Idlib as planned. He said it is not clear what hinders the completion of the evacuation.
Rami Abdurrahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says the Syrian government and rebels who negotiated the deal have differed over the evacuation of gunmen from the towns.
A resident of Zabadani, another rebel-held town to be evacuated, Amer Burhan says no evacuation has taken place from there.