The death toll from the Aleppo bus convoy bomb attack outside Aleppo has reached at least 126 in the deadliest such incident in Syria in almost a year, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Sunday.
The Observatory and the United Nations cited reports that about 68 children were among the dead.
Syrian rescue workers of the Civil Defense said that they had taken away at least 100 bodies from the site of Saturday’s blast, which hit buses carrying Shi’ite residents as they waited to cross from rebel into government territory in an evacuation deal.
Those killed were mostly residents of the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province, but included rebel fighters guarding the convoy, the Observatory said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which pro-Damascus media said was carried out by a suicide car bomber.
Syria’s main armed opposition condemned the bombing, with groups fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army describing it as a “treacherous terrorist attack”.
The convoy was carrying at least 5,000 people including civilians and several hundred pro-government fighters, who were granted safe passage out of the two Shi’ite villages which are besieged by rebels.
The bomb reportedly went off at Rashidin, west of government-held Aleppo, at around 15:30 local time (12:30 GMT) at the checkpoint where the handover was due to take place.
A suicide bomber driving a van supposedly carrying aid supplies blew it up near the coaches, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports.
“A van was distributing crisps,” one civilian evacuee told Zaman English News. “Children started running after it. It then exploded.”
Civils dead in Syrian war
More than 300,000 people have lost their lives and millions of people have been displaced since a peaceful uprising against President Bashar al-Assad six years ago turned into a full-scale civil war.
More than 80 people were killed in a suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, in the north-west, on 4 April, prompting the US to bomb a government air base with missiles.
Pope Francis, in an Easter message, condemned the Aleppo bus convoy bomb attack, describing it as “ignoble”, and asking God to bring healing and comfort to what he called the “beloved and martyred Syria”.
Source: Reuters / BBC