A huge blast on April 15 struck buses that had carried people evacuated from besieged pro-regime towns in Idlib province to an opposition-held area in west Aleppo, where an exchange between pro-regime and rebel forces was due to take place.
The government-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that dozens of civilians, including women and children, were killed and that the blast was caused by a car bomb carried out by “terrorists” in the area. These claims are unconfirmed.
Pro-opposition media also said that dozens were killed. An opposition media activist, Hadi al-Abdullah, reported that rescue workers were among the dead, along with fighters from the Tahrir al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham rebel groups.
The convoy had arrived from the embattled regime-held towns of Kefraya and al-Foua to the rebel-held area of Rashidin on April 14, as part of a people-swap deal between the Syrian government and rebel groups, and had been stationary, with the evacuees still aboard, for a day before the explosion occurred. Hezbollah, a militant group allied with the Syrian regime, and the opposition group Tahrir al-Sham were to exchange bus convoys carrying both civilians and fighters as part of the agreement, known as the “Four Towns" deal.
The “Four Towns” deal allowed rebel fighters and their families to leave the besieged rebel-held towns of Madaya and Zabadani in Damascus province and pro-regime fighters and their families to leave the besieged pro-regime towns of Kefraya and al-Foua in Idlib province, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Credit: YouTube/Thiqa via Storyful