Syrian deal to evacuate tens of thousands of people begins

A suicide auto bomb attack on buses carrying Syrians taken from two besieged government-held towns killed at least 100 people on Saturday.

At least 39 people are dead after a auto bomb exploded near a convoy carrying evacuees from besieged areas of Syria, human rights groups and Syrian media report. Only meters away, hundreds of evacuees from pro-rebels areas also loitered in a walled-off parking lot, guarded by government troops. The government blamed the rebels for the attack.

Some 2,200 people from the town, including about 400 fighters, headed toward Idlib province in northern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group.

Photos that were too graphic to publish showed a huge fire raging next to bodies scattered on the ground next to charred buses, including those of children.

State TV and an opposition monitoring group say the vehicle bomb left an undetermined number of people killed.

The coordinated evacuations delivered war-weary fighters and residents from two years of siege and hunger, but moved Syria closer to a division of its national population by loyalty and sect.

Thousands of civilians and armed fighters began evacuating the besieged government and rebel-held towns of Zabadani and Madaya in Syria on Friday, the latest in a series of population transfers.

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.

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The evacuation deal is one of several over recent months that has seen President Bashar al-Assad's government take back control of areas long besieged by his forces and their allies.

A senior opposition official said 20 fighters who guarded the buses were killed as well as dozens of passengers. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, according to the Associated Press.

Syrian Red Crescent teams distributed meals for the evacuees, who had left their homes over 30 hours earlier.

Thousands of people from the pro-government areas of Foua and Kfraya are stuck by the edge of the city. He said the area was walled off from all sides and there were no restrooms.

"The people are restless and the situation is disastrous", said Mr Afandar. The buses headed to the Jebrin area for a temporary housing center equipped with food and medical supplies, SANA said.

All 16,000 residents of Fuaa and Kafraya are expected to leave, heading to Aleppo, the coastal province of Latakia, or Damascus.

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

The Observatory said the delay was caused by the fact that rebels from Zabadani, another town near Damascus included in the deal, had not yet been granted safe passage out.

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