“Eyewitnesses to the bomb attack on a refugee convoy near Aleppo that killed dozens of children said the militants lured people out of the vehicles with snacks before the explosion, and also stopped them from escaping the blast site.
A powerful explosion hit several buses full of people leaving militant-held towns and villages outside Aleppo last Saturday, killing over 100 people, including dozens of children, and injuring scores more.
Following the attack, Vanessa Beeley of the 21st Century Wire website gathered first-hand accounts from those who survived the assault. People told her that the militants did their utmost to increase the death toll. The exclusive videos she provided to RT shed more light on the incident.
“Just before the explosion, a strange car got from the militants’ checkpoint. They said they were bringing snacks for children,” the bus driver who was in the convoy said.
“Then they got out of the car and started shouting, ‘Who has children? Who has children?’”
The driver said the militants knew for sure that the children “haven’t seen biscuits and crisps for so long” as they were under siege. “People have been stuck in buses for 48 hours as the rebels didn’t let us out,” he noted. A woman said that she and other evacuees were held in the buses “like prisoners,” adding that they were only allowed to get out and stretch 10 minutes before the explosion.
Many people, including children, left the buses and approached the car when the blast hit the convoy.
One of evacuees said that the militants “were throwing potato chips on the site of the future blast. One of the terrorists said that it was food for the infidels.”
The driver recalled that “there were Ahrar ash-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra [Al-Nusra Front], and some factions of the Free Syrian Army [FSA]…”
According to another witness, “the Ahrar ash-Sham fighters didn’t hide their faces, while Jabhat al-Nusra were always wearing masks. One could only see their eyes,” one of the eyewitnesses said.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO, VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED
There were many foreigners among the terrorists – “Uzbeks, Turks, people from Chechnya, Saudis and Qataris. One could judge on their appearance; their language,” another evacuee added.
“When the blast rocked the area, people rushed into the woods but militants surrounded them and forced back to the buses,” the bus driver said.
A female evacuee recalled that “the militants told us that terrorists from another group were shelling our buses and that we must flee towards the bushes… but then they said that the bushes were mined and found ourselves trapped.”
Another woman also told Beeley that even before the explosion, four yellow Turkish ambulances were present at the scene for some reason. After the blast, the ambulances started picking up the dead and injured, only to take them to an unknown location.
“We don’t know where they [the children] are. They’re gone. There are no bodies. We’ve searched for them, but with no result,” one of the witnesses said.
Many relatives of those missing still know nothing of their whereabouts, other witnesses said. Some people told Beeley that the controversial White Helmets were also seen at the blast site, retrieving bodies of Al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham militants, but apparently leaving injured civilians.
Beeley, who has consistently covered the Syrian war, also filmed people’s testimonies about their escape from the rebel-held areas. The evacuees boarded the buses on Friday in the Rashideen neighborhood of Aleppo, but were not allowed out of the vehicles for nearly three days.
Many of them, however, were happy to leave as “this place turned into a terrorists’ hotbed,” one woman said.
International organizations have already condemned the attack on the humanitarian convoy in the strongest terms.
“We must draw from this not only anger, but renewed determination to reach all the innocent children throughout Syria with help and comfort,” said UNICEF’s executive director, Anthony Lake.
“And draw from it also the hope that all those with the heart and the power to end this war will do so.”
However, Beeley told RT that not many in the West followed the UN’s example in decrying the attack.
“We’ve just witnessed one of the most heinous crimes of our lifetime, and yet corporate… there’s no international condemnation from governments, from NGOs, from the media,” she said.
On the contrary, the media is making an attempt to “whitewash this utterly abhorrent” incident, in which, according to Beeley’s information, 116 children lost their lives.”
The witness was aboard a buss that passed Suwaghiya checkpoints (Syrian Army) and continued in direction to Ramouseh.