Children among dozens killed by explosion at Syria weapons depot

Frederick Owens
August 13, 2018

A pair of five-story residential buildings collapsed Sunday in northern Syria's Idlib Province, after the rebel arms depot in the basement exploded. At least 39 civilians were killed in the incident, including a number of children.

The explosion happened in the town of Sarmada, which is near the Turkish border and north of the provincial capital Idlib city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that 12 children were among the 39 dead.

Rescue workers used bulldozers to clear the rubble and rescue trapped people.

The explosion also killed 17 members of Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS), a fighter-led alliance, according to the Britain-based monitor, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria.

Hatem Abu Marwan, a member of the Idlib civil defence team, said that "buildings full of civilians were reduced to rubble", the news agency said.

Daesh also has sleeper cells in the area.

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In recent months, the Syrian government, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, has made major advances in its offensive against a number of rebel and jihadist groups across Syria.

The death toll from an explosion at a weapons depot in northwestern Syria has risen to 69, mostly civilians including 17 children.

While some have been claimed by Islamic State, most have been the result of infighting between other groups.

Bashar al-Assad has warned that regime forces intend to retake Idlib, after his regime regained control of swathes of opposition held territory elsewhere.

In recent days, regime forces have also ramped up their deadly bombardment of southern Idlib and sent reinforcements to nearby areas they control.

Rebels and civilians bussed out of the other three zones when they fell to the regime were taken to Idlib, increasing its population to around 2.5 million people. The White Helmets has operated in opposition-held parts of Syria throughout Syria's seven-year civil war.

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