Syria war: Evacuations resume after deadly bombing

Syria war: Evacuations resume after deadly bombing

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Syrian rebel fighters stand guard as buses bringing a new batch of evacuees from Waer, the last opposition-held district of Syria's third city Homs, arrive in the city of al-Bab in the northern Aleppo provinceImage copyright

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Evacuations are taking place under tight security

Evacuations from two government-held areas of Syria have resumed, monitors and reports say, days after an attack on a convoy carrying evacuees killed 126 people, many of them children.

Some 3,000 people have left the north-western villages of Foah and Kefraya, surrounded by rebels, monitors say.

Meanwhile, buses have moved dozens of others from Zabadani, near Damascus, under siege by pro-government forces.

Security has been tight after Saturday’s attack near Aleppo.

The evacuations resumed early on Wednesday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

Several dozen armed rebel fighters stood guard near the buses, which were carefully searched, an AFP correspondent at the scene reported.

Most of those killed in the attack on Saturday were evacuees from government-held towns, including at least 68 children.

A vehicle filled with explosives hit their convoy. No group has said it was behind the attack.

More than 30,000 people are expected to be moved under the deal to end a grave humanitarian crisis.

Last month, the UN described the situation in the four towns as “catastrophic”, with more than 64,000 civilians “trapped in a cycle of daily violence and deprivation”.

Many people are reported to have died as a result of shortages of food or medicine.

Some 4.7 million people live in hard-to-reach and besieged areas in Syria, including 644,000 in UN-declared besieged locations.

Meanwhile, a bomb explosion killed at least six people and injured 32 others in Aleppo’s Salah al-Din district, state TV reported, without providing details.

The area was under rebel control before pro-government forces took the entire city last December.

The evacuation deal

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  • The so-called “four towns agreement” was brokered by Iran, an ally of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, and Qatar, which supports the rebels
  • Foah and Kefraya, most of whose residents are Shia Muslims, have been encircled by rebels and al-Qaeda-linked Sunni jihadists since March 2015. Evacuees from there are being taken to government-controlled areas near Aleppo
  • Madaya and Zabadani, which are predominantly Sunni, have meanwhile been besieged since June 2015 by the Syrian army and fighters from Lebanon’s Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement. Those leaving these areas are moving to rebel-held territory in Idlib province
  • But critics of the agreement say it amounts to forced demographic change