More than 30 killed in bus at Syria-Turkey crossing
BEIRUTAt least 32 people have been killed in a bombing attack on a bus in Syria near the Atmeh border crossing with Turkey late on Aug. 14, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The bus was carrying fighters from foreign-backed rebel factions, local rebel sources said, according to Reuters.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement on Aug. 14, saying the blast killed 50 fighters from the Failaq al-Sham and the Nour al-Din al-Zinki Movement groups.
The statement said the rebels were from U.S.-backed groups who were traveling to fight ISIL in northern Aleppo province.
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said the toll could rise further as other fighters remained critically wounded, AFP reported.
Pictures circulating on social media showed the burnt-out remains of a bus and medics treating wounded people.
Turkey’s CNN Turk television reported that the explosion occurred at the entrance to the Atmeh refugee camp in Syria, near the frontier crossing, citing local sources.
The Observatory said it had received reports that two Turkish soldiers had been killed in the attack. Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment.
Syria’s Idlib province, where Atmeh is located, is a bastion of the Turkey-backed opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. A multi-sided civil war has raged in Syria for more than five years.
Meanwhile, Syrian and Russian warplanes have launched a wave of air strikes in northern Syria, killing dozens in areas held by a rebel alliance battling to take control of second city Aleppo.
The air strikes, which began Aug. 13 and continued on Aug. 14, killed 45 civilians in and around Aleppo and 22 in neighboring Idlib province, the Observatory said.
The raids came as the Islamist Faylaq al-Sham Islamist faction, part of the rebel alliance, said it had begun a new offensive “to liberate” the regime-held area of Zahra on Aleppo’s western outskirts.
Meanwhile, Lebanese state media said that a roadside bomb near the country’s eastern border with Syria has wounded two Lebanese soldiers, the Associated Press reported.
The National News Agency says the explosion struck an army vehicle in the Arsal region and that the wounds sustained by the troops were minor. The blast was followed by the soldiers opening fire with heavy weapons at militant positions nearby.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov complained on Aug. 15 that Syrian militants had used temporary cease-fires in fighting in and around Aleppo to regroup and rearm.
Lavrov, speaking at a news conference in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said he realized that brief daily cease-fires in place now to allow aid to enter and civilians to leave were not sufficient.
But he said it was difficult to make the cease-fires longer for the moment because of the risk of militants using them to regroup and rearm, something he said they had done in the past.