Syria weapons depot blast kills 12 civilians

Syria weapons depot blast kills 12 civilians

An explosion killed 36 people Sunday in the Syrian town of Sarmada, near the Turkish border, according to the White Helmets, a Syrian volunteer force. The cause of the blast wasn't immediately known. The group said the explosion took place at the bottom of a building that housed ammunition in Bab al-Hawa Square.

The explosion happened in the town of Sarmada, which is near the Turkish border and north of the provincial capital Idlib city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that 12 children were among the 39 dead.

A rescue worker carried the motionless body of a small child from the wreckage to an ambulance, the AFP correspondent said.

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

White Helmet rescue workers attempted to lift part of a floor of one of the buildings with a tall crane.

A civil defence source told AFP that women and children were among the dead.

Five people were pulled out alive.

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The air strikes and barrel bombs targeted the key opposition-held province of Idlib and a rebel town in the adjacent province of Aleppo.

In recent months, the Syrian government, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, has made major advances in its offensive against a number of rebel and jihadist groups across Syria.

While some attacks have been claimed by Daesh, most are the result of infighting since previous year between various other groups. They are considered a terrorist organization by Russian Federation and the Syrian regime.

Idlib contains the largest chunk of territory still in rebel hands, and President Bashar al-Assad has warned it will be his next target after seizing opposition bastions near Damascus and in the country's south.

A full-fledged assault would be devastating for the estimated 2.5 million people living in Idlib, many of them rebels and civilians bussed out of other areas that came back under regime control.

More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's civil war started in 2011 with anti-government demonstrations that were brutally repressed.

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