Tuesday, 22 August, 2017

Thousands of evacuated Syrians stuck as transfer stalls

Saul Franklin | 17 April, 2017, 05:33

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.

Footage from the scene showed bodies, including those of fighters, lying alongside buses, some of which were charred and others gutted from the blast.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem welcomed global inspectors to visit the base Washington said served as a platform for the attack.

The Syrian government said the vehicle had been supposedly carrying aid to the evacuees, while rebels claim the auto was stationary and had been parked near the stalled convoy. The group said the attack only serves to deflect the attention from government "crimes" and said it was ready to cooperate with an global probe to determine who did it. They were evacuated Friday, along with more than 2,000 from Madaya, a town outside of Damascus which was besieged by government forces.

Ahrar al-Sham says the attack only serves to defame the rebels and serve to deflect from the government's "crimes" against opposition-held areas, the latest being the chemical attack where over 80 people were killed.

At least 70 people, including women and children have been killed in a blast that occurred near a bus convoy evacuating residents from Shiite towns of Fua and Kefraya to Aleppo. Afandar said people were not allowed to leave the buses for a while before they were let out. The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 43, adding that it would likely rise because of the extensive damage.

Syrian state TV blamed the rebels for obstructing the deal, causing thousands of evacuees to be stuck in bus depots overnight.

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They are also causing demographic changes because those who are displaced are usually Sunni Muslims, like most of the opposition.

As part of the deal, government forces are allowing thousands of rebels and civilians to leave two towns in southwest Syria: Madaya and Zabadani, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Foua and Kfraya, besieged by the rebels, lived under a steady hail of rockets and mortars.

An opposition representative, Ali Diab, told the pan-Arab Al-Arabiya TV that fewer armed men than agreed to were evacuated from the pro-government areas, violating the terms of the agreement.

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.

The exact reasons for the delay in completing the evacuation deal were also unclear.

Syria's opposition had said the evacuation deals, which have included areas of Aleppo and a district in the western city of Homs, amount to forced displacement of Mr Assad's opponents from Syria's main urban centres.

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