Mass evacuation in Syria to proceed after blast kill 68 kids





BEIRUT (AP) - More than 3,000 Syrians were expected to be evacuated Sunday from four areas as part of a population transfer that was briefly stalled a day earlier by a deadly blast that killed more than 120 people, many of them government supporters.

As the evacuations were expected to begin Sunday, shells fired by the Islamic State group on government-held parts of the eastern city of Deir el-Zour wounded two members of a Russian media delegation visiting the area, according to state-run Syrian news agency SANA. Russia is a main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian journalists enjoy wide access in government-held parts of the country.

The United Nations is not overseeing the transfer deal, which involves residents of the pro-government villages of Foua and Kfarya and the opposition-held towns of Madaya and Zabadani. All four have been under siege for years, their fate linked through a series of reciprocal agreements that the U.N. says have hindered aid deliveries.

Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV said 3,000 people will be evacuated from Foua and Kfarya, while 200, the vast majority of them fighters, will be evacuated from Zabadani and Madaya.

Abdurrahman said Saturday's blast -which hit an area where thousands of pro-government evacuees had been waiting for hours - killed 126. He said the dead included 109 people from Foua and Kfarya, among them 80 children and 13 women.

No one has claimed the attack, but both the Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-affiliated Fatah al-Sham Front have targeted civilians in government areas in the past.

A wounded girl, who said she lost her siblings in the blast, told Al-Manar TV from her hospital bed that children who had been deprived of food for years in the two villages were approached by a man in the car who told them to come and eat potato chips. She said once many had gathered, there was an explosion that tore some of the children to pieces.

After the blast, some 60 buses carrying 2,200 people, including 400 opposition fighters, entered areas held by rebels in the northern province of Aleppo, Abdurrahman said. More than 50 buses and 20 ambulances carrying some 5,000 Foua and Kfarya residents entered the government-held city of Aleppo, Syrian state TV said, with some of them later reaching a shelter in the village of Jibreen to the south.

U.N. relief coordinator Stephen O'Brien said he was "horrified" by the deadly bombing, and that while the U.N. was not involved in the transfer it was ready to "scale up our support to evacuees."

He called on all parties to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, and to "facilitate safe and unimpeded access for the U.N. and its partners to bring life-saving help to those in need."

Residents of Madaya and Zabadani, formerly summer resorts, joined the 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad. Both came under government siege in the ensuing civil war. Residents of Foua and Kfraya, besieged by the rebels, have lived under a steady hail of rockets and mortars for years, but were supplied with food and medicine through military airdrops.

Critics say the string of evacuations, which could see some 30,000 people moved across battle lines over the next 60 days, amounts to forced displacement along political and sectarian lines.

In eastern Syria, an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition on the village of Sukkarieh near the border with Iraq killed eight civilians who had earlier fled violence in the northern province of Aleppo, according to Deir Ezzor 24, an activist collective, and Sound and Picture Organization, which documents IS violations.

Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition had killed dozens of civilians over the past several weeks as the battle against the extremists intensifies in Syria and Iraq.

____

Associated Press writer Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria contributed to this report.

COMMENTS

More Related News

US jets intercept Russian warplanes in Syria: Pentagon
US jets intercept Russian warplanes in Syria: Pentagon

A pair of US warplanes intercepted two Russia jets over a part of Syria they were not supposed to be operating in, the Pentagon said Thursday. At one point during Wednesday's incident, the American F-22 Raptor stealth fighters deployed chaff and flares to convince the Russian Su-25s to leave the area, and one US pilot had to "aggressively maneuver" to avoid a midair collision, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said. The Russian fighters had flown into airspace controlled by the US-led coalition that is fighting the Islamic State group in Syria, crossing onto the east side of the Euphrates River near Albu Kamal.

More than 20 IS killed in southern Syria: coalition
More than 20 IS killed in southern Syria: coalition

Syrian opposition forces backed by a US-led coalition killed more than 20 Islamic State fighters and took several others prisoner Thursday, military officials said. According to the coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq, a vetted Syrian opposition group known as the Maghawir al-Thawra detected the fighters early Thursday in an area controlled by pro-Syrian regime forces in southern Syria, in the Al-Tanf border region. Supported by coalition forces, the Maghawir al-Thawra "quickly and professionally conducted an operation," the coalition said in a statement.

Nearly a third of all weapons used by Isil on the battlefield were manufactured in EU, report claims 
Nearly a third of all weapons used by Isil on the battlefield were manufactured in EU, report claims 

Nearly a third of all weapons used by Isil on the battlefield were manufactured in the European Union, according to the most thorough investigation yet into how the jihadist group acquired its vast arsenal.   Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants relied heavily on guns and ammunition produced by Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Germany, a report released on Thursday by Conflict Armament Research (CAR), an international organisation that documents weapons trafficking in war zones, revealed. The only bigger producer of weapons used by the group was found to be China. The revelation sits uncomfortably with the EU's effort to degrade the group's military capacity, CAR...

Putin must nudge Syria into U.N. peace deal, mediator says
Putin must nudge Syria into U.N. peace deal, mediator says
  • World
  • 2017-12-13 20:29:59Z

By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura urged Russia on Wednesday to convince its ally the Syrian government of the need to clinch a peace deal to end the nearly seven-year-old war. De Mistura, speaking on Swiss television station RTS, said failure to

Accused NYC bomber to formally face terrorism charges as soon as Wednesday
Accused NYC bomber to formally face terrorism charges as soon as Wednesday
  • US
  • 2017-12-13 14:30:43Z

The Bangladeshi man accused of attempting a suicide bombing in one of New York City's busiest commuter hubs is expected to be formally charged as early as Wednesday with supporting a foreign terrorist organization and other crimes. Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old supporter of the radical group Islamic State, will appear from Bellevue Hospital before a judge via video conference as soon as Wednesday, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office. Three people suffered minor injuries when Ullah attempted to detonate a pipe bomb secured to his midsection in a pedestrian tunnel under the sprawling Port Authority transportation complex, where many commuters from New York's suburbs arrive on buses...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.