Explosion at makeshift arms depot kills at least 69 people in Syria

Dozens more still missing as buildings are reduced to rubble in Idlib province

Colin Drury
Monday 13 August 2018 09:59
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Syrian White Helmets attempt rescues after an explosion at a makeshift munitions depot in Idlib province
Syrian White Helmets attempt rescues after an explosion at a makeshift munitions depot in Idlib province

At least 69 people, including 12 children, have been killed after an explosion at what is thought to be a makeshift arms depot in Syria.

Dozens more are still missing with the death toll expected to rise following the blast in the town of Sarmada in Idlib province.

“Buildings full of civilians were reduced to rubble,” one White Helmets rescuer Hatem Abu Marwan was quoted as telling the AFP news agency.

It is thought the munitions depot may have been created by an arms trafficker within a five-storey residential building.

Idlib is the last major rebel stronghold in war-torn Syria and is widely expected to be the next target which the country’s armed forces attempt to retake.

In recent months, the government, led by president Bashar al-Assad and backed by Russia and Iran, has made major advances in its offensive against a number of rebel groups.

After Sunday’s explosion, rescuers used bulldozers to remove the rubble and pull out trapped people.

Many of the dead and the injured are believed to have been Syrians already displaced by the civil war from the central Homs province.

But the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that there were dozens more people missing.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately known.

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