Thousands of Syria evacuees stuck on road as deal falters


On Friday, evacuation from four besieged Syrian towns, namely, Fua, Kefraya, Madaya and Zabadani started as part of population swap deal between Damascus and opposition forces agreed in March in the framework of national reconciliation program.

State TV al-Ikhbariya said the attack was the result of a vehicle bomb carrying food aid to be delivered to the evacuees in the rebel-held area - ostensibly crisps for the children - and accused rebel groups of carrying it out.

BEIRUT (AP) - Syria TV says at least 22 people were killed in an explosion that hit near evacuation buses in northern Syria.

Thousands of Syrians were stuck in and around Aleppo on Saturday as a deal to evacuate people from two Shiite villages in return for Sunni opposition fighters and their families leaving two besieged towns near Damascus halted, a war monitor and activists said.

A media unit run by Hezbollah, which backs the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, said the suspected attacker detonated a auto bomb near the convoy of people evacuated from towns besieged by rebel forces in northern Syria.

At least 80 buses left Fuaa and Kafraya in Idlib province in the northwest, an Agence France-Presse correspondent in rebel-held territory said. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

A Lebanese TV channel close to the Syrian government showed footage of new buses arriving at an evacuation point near the site of the explosion.

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People that were evacuated from the two villages of Kefraya and al-Foua walk near buses, after a stall in an agreement between rebels and Syrian regime, at rebel-held al-Rashideen, Aleppo province, Syria April 15, 2017.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent was distributing food and water to the waiting passengers, who include 3,700 civilians, the agency adds.

Ahmed Afandar, a resident evacuated from his home near Madaya, said: "The people are restless and the situation is disastrous". "All these thousands of people are stuck in less than half a kilometre (500 yards)".

"When I first went onto the bus, I broke down from sadness, I fell on the ground and they had to help me", said Fuaa resident Abu Hussein.

Today, those from Madaya sat outside rows of coaches in a bus garage in government-held Aleppo, waiting to move onto Idlib, pictures sent by a pro-opposition activist showed.

"The bus garage is small so there's not much space to move around".

A resident of Zabadani - another rebel-held town to be evacuated - Amer Burhan says no evacuation had even taken place from there.