Deadly bomb blast hits Rakban refugee camp near Jordan

Deaths reported as camp near Jordan border is attacked days before peace talks in Kazakhstan.

Syrian refugees board a Jordanian army vehicle after they crossed into Jordanian territory with their families, at the Rakban refugee camp in the Al Ruqban border area
The Rukban camp has been targeted several times during Syria's war [File: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters]

A bomb blast struck the Rakban camp for displaced people in Syria near the border with Jordan on Saturday, causing injuries and deaths, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.

The camp is home to displaced civilians and to rebel groups that fight both President Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group, and was targeted by bombings last year.

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Jordan’s official Petra news agency, citing a military source, confirmed that an explosion went off inside the camp.

Syrian local media said the blast was caused by a car bomb and caused deaths and injuries.

There was no claim of responsibility for the bombing.

Home to more than 85,000 displaced people, the Rakban camp was also targeted by a bomb blast last month.

On Saturday, the Russian defence ministry said six Russian warplanes carried out air strikes on ISIL targets in the Deir Ezzor province, according to Russian media outlet RIA.

The ministry added that the planes flew from Russian territory and returned after the strikes, RIA said.

Peace talks

The attacks come as the Syrian government and rebel groups prepare for upcoming peace talks in Kazakhstan.

A ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey last month excluded the main hardline group in northwestern Syria, former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. Meanwhile a spate of air strikes targeting its leaders have increased mistrust among rebels. 

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All this plays further to Assad’s advantage, as his Russian and Iranian allies want to lead diplomacy over Syria, with new US President Donald Trump indicating that he will cut backing for the moderate Syrian opposition.

The rebels going to Kazakhstan’s Astana say the meeting must focus on shoring up the ceasefire and that they will resist political discussions. Assad has said he is open to such talks.

Syria’s conflict started as a largely unarmed uprising against Assad’s rule in March 2011, but it quickly morphed into a full-scale civil war. 

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed throughout the five years of fighting, while more than half of the country’s prewar population have been internally displaced or fled the country. 

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Source: News Agencies