50 buses of Shiite evacuees enter Aleppo following massive explosion

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-16 04:44:05|Editor: Mengjiao Liu
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DAMASCUS, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Hours after an explosion killed 70 people on Saturday, 50 buses carrying Shiite evacuees reached government-controlled areas in the northern city of Aleppo, a military source told Xinhua.

The 50 buses transporting Shiite Syrians from the towns of Kafraya and Foa in the rebel-held Idlib province reached government-controlled areas in Aleppo city.

Their arrivals came 24 hours after their buses were held by the rebels in Rashideen area, west of Aleppo, and just hours after a deadly bombing rocked the gathering point of their buses in the rebel-held area, killing 70 and wounding over 100.

The blast, carried out by a suicide bomber driving a booby-trapped potato truck, ripped through a bus depot, where 5,000 pro-government Shiite people were waiting the reactivation of a deal designed to secure their transportation to government-controlled area in Aleppo.

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.

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.

But following the explosion, the rebels released the buses and agreed to resume the deal, and the busses carrying the rebels and their families from Madaya left Ramouseh toward Rashideen and later will go to Idlib.

The source told Xinhua that the deal will continue and the rest of the people from the four towns will evacuate as planned.

Earlier, an eyewitness from those waiting in Rashideen told Xinhua that three people died while waiting due to poor medical conditions, before the explosion.

He added that the three dead are all women, who gave birth inside the buses in tough situation as those people had been waiting there for 24 hours without enough food or water.