A bomb blast believed to be the result of a suicide bomber struck a bus convoy waiting to enter the Syrian city of Aleppo on Saturday. Reports thus far indicate more than twenty-four people were killed and dozens more were injured.
The blast occurred as the buses sat waiting after an evacuation deal between the Syrian government and opposition forces was suddenly halted, leaving thousands of Syrians stranded at transit points in the outskirts of the city.
The explosion struck in the Rashidin area of Aleppo’s outskirts as it was waiting to cross from rebel-held territory into the city that falls under governmental control. It was carrying people evacuated from two different Shiite villages on Friday when it was struck by a car bomb driven by an unknown suicide bomber.
The residents inside the buses had left two rebel-besieged villages alongside hundreds of pro-government fighters. Their travel was permitted under an agreement that also saw many Sunni insurgents granted the opportunity to flee villages near Damascus that were similarly under siege by Assad’s forces.
A breakdown in the agreement between Assad’s government and opposition forces saw the endeavor halted, however, placing the Syrian civilians in the treacherous position of having to wait inside their busses or in bus garages to learn their fate. According to some reports, the deal was halted due to a dispute over rebels from another town, Zabadani, not being granted passage by government troops as they’d been promised. Other pro-opposition outlets have reported that the delay could also have been caused in part by fewer pro-government forces leaving Shiite villages than the agreement called for.
According to reports from the scene, the bus that was attacked had been sitting stationary for nearly thirty-hours at the time of the explosion.