Thousands of evacuated Syrians stuck as transfer stalls

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, and its implications for the broader deal - determining the future of some 30,000 Syrians across four towns - was unclear.

A similar attack took place in December when buses were burnt by rebel forces as evacuees fled the war-torn area.

The waiting passengers spent the night on their buses in Ramusa, where the Red Crescent also distributed food and water, Amjad al-Maleh told AFP by telephone.

The group says it is starting a probe into the cause of the attack, and said it is ready to cooperate with an worldwide investigation to determine who carried it out.

Syrian rescue workers volunteering as first responders in rebel-controlled areas say at least 100 people were killed and 55 injured in a vehicle bomb explosion that ripped through a makeshift bus depot in Aleppo province where evacuees were waiting to be transported to government-held areas.

The departures Friday marked the first stage in an evacuation that will see some 30,000 Syrians switch between rebel- and government-held areas, as part of a complex deal brokered by Qatar and Iran.

At least 80 buses left Fuaa and Kafraya in Idlib province in the northwest, an AFP correspondent in rebel-held territory said.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi military statement said the Syrian air force has carried out a series of air strikes against so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militants inside Syria, with one killing a leading member of the group in Raqqa, the IS de facto capital.

The blast earlier Saturday killed at least 39 people and wounded dozens.

Al-Manar TV said the buses were to replace those damaged by the blast. Russian Federation has alleged that the victims were killed by toxic agents from a rebel chemical arsenal hit by Syrian war planes. It was in response to a chemical weapons attack on April 4 on a northern Syrian town that Washington blamed on Damascus. The group said on Twitter that a auto bomb caused the explosion. A war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says 43 were killed in the blast that hit the al-Rashidin area, on the edge of Aleppo city.

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An explosion hit a bus convoy carrying evacuees near the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Thousands of militants and their families were expected to depart for Idlib, while thousands of people were supposed to leave Foua and Kefraya for government-held parts of Aleppo province, according to the terms of the deal. Critics say the deal amounts to "demographic engineering".

"We wish that everyone could stay in his village and his city, but those people like many other civilians in different areas were surrounded and besieged by the terrorists, and they've been killed on (a) daily basis, so they had to leave", he said.

The convoy that departed Al-Fu'ah and Kafriya is carrying 5,000 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

People who were evacuated from villages in Aleppo wait for buses after a stall in an agreement between rebels and Syria's army.

The rebels and residents of Madaya near Damascus were waiting at the government-held Ramousah bus garage, a few miles away.

Thousands were leaving Madaya and Zabadani, including more than 2,000 rebel fighters, their families and other civilians, the monitoring group said.

Rebels and the government disagreed over the number of gunmen that could be evacuated.

The exact reasons for the delay in completing the evacuation deal were also unclear.

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