Death toll from Syria bomb attack on bus convoy rises to at least 120 people
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The evacuation of more than 3,000 Syrians that was scheduled to take place Sunday from four areas as part of a population transfer has been postponed, opposition activists said, a day after a deadly blast that killed more than 120 people, many of them government supporters.
The reasons for the delay were not immediately clear. It came as shells fired by ISIS 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 UN 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 ISIS and the al-Qaida-affiliated Fatah al-Sham Front have targeted civilians in government areas in the past.