Syrian TV says dozens killed in blast near evacuation buses

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A bomb blast hit a bus convoy waiting to cross into government-held Aleppo in Syria on Saturday, killing and wounding dozens of people evacuated from two Shi'ite villages the day before in a deal between warring sides.The agreement had stalled, leaving thousands of people from both government-besieged and rebel-besieged areas stranded at two transit points on the city's outskirts, before the explosion occurred.Pro-Damascus media outlets said a suicide attacker detonated a vehicle bomb and killed at least 22 people. At least 39 people were killed and 48 others sustained injuries as a result, Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network reported.

The United Nations did not oversee the transfer deal of the villages of Foua and Kfraya, besieged by the rebels, and Madaya and Zabadani, encircled by the government.

People waiting in the Ramousah garage heard the blast, and said they feared revenge attacks by pro-government forces.

The government and rebels have brokered a series of deals to evacuate people from besieged areas, which Damascus touts as the best way to end the violence.

Syria state TV reported the transfer process resumed hours after the explosion, with dozens of wounded transported. The group said on Twitter that a auto bomb caused the explosion. In footage aired on Syrian TV, bodies were strewn outside buses, including fighters.

The bloody mayhem that followed the Saturday attack only deepened the resentment of the transfer criticized as population engineering.

Residents from the two villages evacuated Friday, along with more than 2,000 from Madaya, an opposition-held town outside of Damascus besieged by government forces.

The deals are unpopular with the Syrian opposition, who say they amount to forced displacement of Assad's opponents from Syria's main urban centers in the west of the country.

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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. They were supplied with food and medical supplies through military airdrops.

Syria's war has left more than 320,000 people dead since erupting in 2011, with more than half the population forced from their homes and hundreds of thousands enduring siege-like conditions.

He said the area was walled off from all sides and there were no toilets.

The deal had stipulated that in the first stage 8,000 people, including 2,000 loyalist fighters, leave the two towns but in the event just 5,000, including 1,300 fighters left, the Britain-based Observatory said.

But thousands were stuck on the road Saturday in rebel-held Rashidin, west of Aleppo.

"The people are restless and the situation is disastrous", said Ahmed Afandar, a resident evacuated from the opposition area near Madaya. Food was distributed after several hours and by early afternoon the evacuees from rebel-held areas were "pressured" to sit back on their buses, Afandar said.

Complex transfer is part of a deal that will see more than 10,000 people evacuated and hundreds of prisoners exchanged.

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.

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