World, Middle East

Death toll from Aleppo car-bomb hits 19: Medical source

Massive blast targets Free Syrian Army checkpoint in Aleppo’s Azaz district near Turkish border

Death toll from Aleppo car-bomb hits 19: Medical source Injured Syrian car bomb attack victims arrive at Kilis Hospital to receive their medical treatments on October 13, 2016. At least 15 were killed in and many others injured a car bomb blast in Azaz town. (İzzet Mazi - Anadolu Agency)

AZAZ, Syria 

The death toll from a massive car-bomb that shook Aleppo’s Azaz district late Thursday night has risen to 19, according to local medical sources.

The blast targeted a Free Syrian Army checkpoint in Azaz, located in Syria’s northwestern Aleppo province near the Turkish border. 

According to sources at a local field hospital, who spoke to Anadolu Agency anonymously due to fears for their safety, the death toll from the blast had risen to 19 as of mid-day Friday.

Some of the injured have been taken to hospitals in neighboring Turkey, according to earlier statements issued by local security sources.

Aleppo has long been a flashpoint for conflict between forces loyal to Syria’s Assad regime and armed opposition groups. 

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed across the war-torn country and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN figures.

On Wednesday, Moscow announced that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday in hopes of hammering out a ceasefire agreement.

According to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement, the two top diplomats will hold a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, which will also be attended by the representatives of regional powers.

Lavrov told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in Moscow that the meeting would also include foreign ministers from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and possibly Qatar. 

On Oct. 3, the U.S. concluded ceasefire talks with Russia after the latter stepped up a bombing campaign in and around Aleppo city, the eastern districts of which remain under siege by Syrian regime troops. 

For the past year, Russia -- citing the need to combat "terrorism" and support the embattled Assad regime -- has carried out numerous airstrikes in Aleppo, which have led to the death and injury of hundreds of the city’s civilian inhabitants.

*Reporting by Halit Suleyman; Writing by Handan Kazanci 
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