At least 39 killed as explosion destroys two five-storey buildings in Sarmada, northern Syria


Updated

August 13, 2018 07:43:57

An explosion in northern Syria has killed at least 39 people and wounded many others, but the cause of the blast isn’t immediately known, opposition activists say.

Key points:

  • Many victims — including 21 women and children — buried under rubble of two buildings
  • Activists say the blast occurred in a residential building thought to be storing weapons and ammunition
  • Civilians were living in the building which was also used by an arms dealer

The White Helmets, first responder rescue workers also known as Syria Civil Defence, said the blast occurred in the village of Sarmada near the Turkish border on Sunday (local time).

The explosion collapsed two five-storey buildings, burying many of the victims, it said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 39, including 21 women and children.

An opposition media collective known as the Smart news agency said the dead included civilians as well as members of the Al Qaeda-linked Levant Liberation Committee.

The Observatory said an arms depot in the basement of a building had detonated.

It said the depot was run by an arms dealer close to the Levant Liberation Committee.

Meanwhile, Syrian Government forces fighting rebels in Idlib province have sent more reinforcements ahead of a potential offensive on the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.

The pro-government Al-Watan daily said huge military reinforcements had reached the outskirts of Idlib province as a preliminary step to launch a wide-scale offensive.

Quoting military sources, the paper said that troops had reached the northern countryside of the neighbouring Hama province as part of military preparations to recapture Idlib province.

The expected offensive on Idlib comes after Government forces captured major rebel strongholds earlier this year near the capital Damascus and in the southern provinces of Daraa and Quneitra.

The paper said that the battle would be “comprehensive”, starting from Hama’s northern countryside to the southern countryside of Aleppo, adding that the target of the battle is to seize Idlib City.

Government airstrikes on the province on Friday killed dozens.

Pro-government activists said on social media that the elite Tiger Force, led by Brigadier General Suheil al-Hassan, arrived in northern Syria to spearhead what they called the “Dawn of Idlib” operation.

ABC/wires

Topics:

unrest-conflict-and-war,

world-politics,

syrian-arab-republic

First posted

August 13, 2018 07:29:04



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