Published: Sun, April 16, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Thousands of evacuated Syrians stuck as transfer stalls


But a delay in the agreement had left all those evacuated stuck at two transit points on Aleppo's outskirts since late on Friday.

Some 30,000 besieged people would be taken out but, according to AFP news agency, up to 5,000 government evacuees and 2,200 from rebel towns are now stranded. The Observatory said more than 24 were killed and scores more wounded. He accused the government or extremist rebel groups of orchestrating the attack to discredit the opposition.

The convoy of almost 5,000 people had been stuck in Rashidin on the outskirts of Aleppo after a population transfer deal with rebel forces stalled.

A bomb blast hit a bus convoy waiting to cross into government-held Aleppo in Syria on Saturday, killing dozens of people evacuated from two Shi'ite villages the day before in a deal between warring sides.

The explosion Saturday hit an evacuation point south of Aleppo city, where dozens of buses have been parked for more than 30 hours as a much-criticised population transfer deal stalled.

The state TV channel said the explosion was caused by a vehicle bomb. Al-Ikhbariya TV said 48 wounded were transported in exchange for allowing five buses of residents from opposition areas to head toward a rebel-controlled province.

"There are last minute deals; some people are refusing to leave the towns, others are getting on the buses, some have been registered and others haven't", he added, describing the operation as "colossal".

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The Syrian Arab Red Crescent distributed food and water to the waiting passengers, who included 3,700 civilians, at Rashidin, west of government-held second city Mosul.

The evacuees from Madaya headed to rebel-held Idlib, west of Aleppo.

A month ago, the United Nations portrayed the circumstance in the star government north-western towns of Foah and Kefraya, and the revolt held towns of Madaya and Zabadani close Damascus, as "calamitous".

Ahrar al-Sham group is the main negotiator with the government and its allies of the widely criticized evacuation deal that transferred thousands of government and opposition supporters from four besieged areas.

"We are not moving forward or backward", he said.

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.

He said it is not clear what hinders the completion of the evacuation. It was not immediately clear if al-Hakim was the same French national US officials said was killed in an airstrike in Syria in November 2016.

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