Twin bombings in the Syrian city of Homs have killed at least 32 people on Monday, with a suicide attacker detonating an explosives belt as onlookers assessed damage from the first blast, reported Reuters.
The explosions hit the central city’s al-Zahraa district. The precise death toll remains unclear, with government-run Syrian media reporting 19 people killed and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights citing 32 dead. Scores more were wounded.
It was the second major attack in Homs since a cease-fire deal between warring sides took effect earlier this month, clearing the way for the government to take over the last rebel-controlled area of the city.
Homs Governor Talal Barrazi said a car bomb exploded and minutes later a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt detonated his device among people gathered to inspect the damage. The blasts came as hundreds of fighters and their families were being evacuated from three areas in Syria to Lebanon and Turkey.
Meanwhile, the evacuation of three other towns has begun, following a UN-backed humanitarian deal reached in September between the government and rebels who oppose President Bashar al-Assad’s administration.
More than 120 fighters and wounded on Monday began leaving Zabadani, the last rebel bastion on Syria’s border with Lebanon. They will then fly from Beirut to Turkey before relocating to opposition-held areas in Syria, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Another 335 people, including civilians, began traveling from two regime-controlled villages in northwestern Syria to other government areas, also via the neighboring countries, he said. Residents of the mainly Shiite villages of Fuaa and Kafraya were to cross into Turkey, then fly into Beirut and travel overland into Damascus.
In return for allowing the rebels to leave, the deal allows the government of President Bashar al-Assad to restore control over areas that had been in rebel hands for the past four years.
According to SMH, relatives, and well-wishers who had waited for hours on the Lebanese border cheered buses carrying the fighters as they drove by towards Beirut airport, and some families wept as they strained for glimpses of their loved ones, a witness said.