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Dozens Killed In Blast In Syria's Idlib


Destroyed buildings are seen following an explosion at an arms depot in a residential area in Syria's northern Idlib Province city of Sarmada on August 12.

A blast at a weapons depot has killed at least 36 civilians, including 12 children, in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, a war monitor and opposition activists say.

The opposition-run Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, said the explosion occurred on August 12 in the town of Sarmada near the Turkish border.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights initially put the death toll at 18.

However, the observatory later said that the toll rose after more bodies were retrieved from the rubble caused by the blast of unknown origin at the depot. It's unclear if the casualties are all civilians.

The observatory says the depot in the basement of a building was run by an arms dealer close to the al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee.

A civil defence volunteer in Idlib told the dpa news agency that at least 70 others were wounded in the blast.

"Rescue and firefighting teams are still working to pull out other victims from under the rubble," the volunteer added.

Meanwhile, Syrian government forces are fighting rebels in Idlib, which is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an Islamist alliance led by an Al-Qaeda-linked group.

Over the last three years, thousands of rebels and their families have been evacuated from different parts of war-torn Syria to Idlib under agreements between the rebels and the government.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and dpa
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