Published: Mon, August 13, 2018

Dozens killed as weapons depot explodes in Syria

Dozens killed as weapons depot explodes in Syria

It says the explosion collapsed two five-story buildings, burying numerous victims.

Behind mounds of rubble, the facade of a building was scorched black, due to a fire after the blast.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, said the death toll could rise as dozens were still missing.

SOHR said the weapons depot was housed in a residential building in the northwestern town of Sarmada, in Idlib province.

A civil defence source told AFP that rescue workers had pulled out "five people who were still alive".

Now around 60 percent of Idlib province is controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS), a coalition of anti-government groups which includes a faction which used to give its allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

The cause of the blast was "not yet clear", he added.

Refugees have been fleeing to Idlib from other parts of Syria as the regime gradually reestablishes control over the country.

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

Rebels have lost swathes of the territory they once controlled in Syria to regime forces over the last few months, including three areas designated as "de-escalation zones".

A child is recovered from the rubble of a building in the northern Syrian town of Orum al-Kubra which was the target of fierce bombardment.

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.

On Thursday, government helicopters dropped leaflets over towns in the eastern part of Idlib urging people to surrender.

There are growing concerns for the 2.5 million people in the province, many of them civilians.

The United Nations appealed the same day for talks to avert "a civilian bloodbath" in the province.

The Observatory says numerous residents killed were displaced earlier this year from the central province of Homs.

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