Syrian TV says dozens killed in blast near evacuation buses

The blast hit the Rashidin area on Aleppo's outskirts, where dozens of buses carrying mostly Shia residents of two villages that are being evacuated in a deal between warring sides were waiting to enter the city. Residents from the two villages had been evacuated Friday, along with more than 2,000 from Madaya, an opposition-held town outside of Damascus besieged by government forces.

Salloum Salloum, a lawmaker speaking on the pro-government al-Ikhbariya TV channel, said efforts were underway to resolve the problem, accusing the rebels of adding new conditions to the deal.

But as the government and militants disagreed over the number of gunmen to be evacuated, the busses were left stuck at two separate parts, but adjacent parts of the city.

They have been touted by the government as the best way to end the fighting but rebels say they are forced out by siege and bombardment.

At least 39 people have been killed after explosions struck a convoy of buses carrying Syrian evacuees.

Mr Afandar said people had not been "pressured" to remain on buses amid reported disagreements between regime and rebel negotiators over the evacuation of fighters.

The government blamed the rebels for the attack.

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Rami Abdurrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the Syrian government and rebels who negotiated the deal have differed over the evacuation of gunmen from the towns. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll was at least 24.Footage on state TV showed bodies lying next to charred buses with their windows blown out, and vehicles in flames.The blast hit buses in the Rashidin area on Aleppo's outskirts.

"The people are restless and the situation is disastrous", said Ahmed Afandar, a resident evacuated from his hometown near Madaya.

No one knows the exact number of the victims yet, the eyewitness said, claiming that "there are more dead people inside the buses".

However, a delay in the agreement has reportedly left thousands of evacuated people stranded at two transit points on Aleppo's outskirts since late Friday. "All these thousands of people are stuck in less than half a kilometre (500 yards)". The buses headed to the Jebrin area for a temporary housing center equipped with food and medical supplies, SANA said. The evacuees from Madaya were expected to head to rebel-held Idlib, west of Aleppo.

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.

It was part of the "Four Towns" deal, brokered by Iran and Qatar, in the hope of ending the plight of civilians living in besieged areas of Syria.

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