Six people were killed and dozens others wounded in a blast that rocked the northern Syrian city of Aleppo at a time when a complex evacuation deal was being carried out a few kilometers away in Rashidin, a southwestern suburb of the city.
Syrian state TV said an explosive device went off in the northern city of Aleppo, killing six people and wounding 30 others.
It did not provide further details on Wednesday’s blast in the regime-held Salaheddin neighborhood. Opposition media groups, including Aleppo Today, said the explosion occurred near a mosque during the funeral of a regime fighter.
Aleppo was divided between regime and rebel-held districts for years, but regime forces managed to drive rebels from the city in December with a Russian-backed offensive. Some contested areas remain.
Meanwhile, the widely criticized evacuation of thousands of Syrians from four besieged areas resumed Wednesday, state media and activists said, days after a bombing killed more than 120 evacuees and delayed the population transfer.
The Central Military Media said 3,000 residents of two pro-regime villages, Foua and Kafarya, left Wednesday in 45 buses bound for regime-controlled Aleppo. Another 11 buses carrying some 500 people, including opposition fighters, left Madaya and Zabadani, near Damascus, heading toward the northern rebel-held Idlib province.
The opposition-run Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the transfer, which it said includes 800 armed men from both the rebels and regime. Some 160, mostly gunmen, had remained in Zabadani.
“The process has resumed with 3,000 people leaving Foua and Kafraya at dawn and nearly 300 leaving Zabadani and two other rebel-held areas,” the head of the Britain-based monitoring group, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.
Security was tightened up for Wednesday’s departures. Several dozen armed rebel fighters stood guard over the marshalling area where the buses were parked.
The AFP correspondent said all other vehicles were carefully searched.
After repeated delays, the first phase of the deal began on Friday. Some 30 hours after the first two batches reached exchange points, a massive explosion struck near buses carrying evacuees from the pro-regime areas, killing more than 120, mostly women and children. Many of the rebel fighters who guarded the buses were also killed. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which the regime blamed on the rebels.
The transfer deal is not overseen by the United Nations. Critics say the string of evacuations, which could see some 30,000 people moved across battle lines over the next 60 days, rewards siege tactics and amounts to forced displacement along political and sectarian lines.
All four areas have been under siege for years, their fate linked through a series of reciprocal agreements that the UN says have hindered aid deliveries.