Blast near Syrian-Turkish border kills at least 18; cause unclear

Blanche Robertson
August 13, 2018

The cause of the explosion was not immediately known.

The opposition-run Syria Civil Defence, first responders also known as the White Helmets, said the blast occurred in the town of Sarmada near the Turkish border.

An explosion in a residential building thought to be storing weapons and ammunition in Syria's rebel-held Idlib killed at least 39 people including 12 children today, a war monitor said.

A rescue worker carried the motionless body of a small child from the wreckage to an ambulance, the AFP correspondent said. Nearby three young boys watched on in silence, perched on a rock.

One of the buildings was scorched black after a fire followed the explosion.

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

The White Helmets said that their volunteers rescued 10 people from the rubble of the explosion and they "are working tirelessly, searching and rescuing, in unbelievable areas of destruction and death".

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Most of Idlib is controlled by Turkish backed opposition fighters, while parts of it are controlled by terrorist groups led by al-Qaida linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, but the Daesh terror group also has sleeper cells in the area.

The regime holds a small slither of southeastern Idlib.

While some have been claimed by Islamic State, most have been the result of infighting between other groups. They are considered a terrorist organization by Russian Federation and the Syrian regime.

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 United Nations appealed Thursday for talks to avert "a civilian bloodbath" in the province, which borders Turkey.

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.

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