BEIRUT, Lebanon — The death toll from an explosion in a residential building thought to store weapons and ammunition in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib Province has risen to 69, including 12 children, a monitoring group said on Monday.
The explosion on Sunday happened in the town of Sarmada, which is near the border with Turkey and north of the provincial capital, Idlib, said the group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict from Britain with the aid of a network of contacts in Syria.
Syrian civilians, displaced during the country’s seven-year war, were living in the building, which was also used by an arms dealer, the group said.
At least 52 civilians were killed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, along with 17 members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist-led alliance.
“Rescue operations are still ongoing,” said Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the Observatory. He added that most of the civilians killed were family members of the jihadist fighters who had moved to the area from the central province of Homs.
The Syrian White Helmets, a group of rescue workers established in rebel-held areas of the country, said on Twitter that at least 10 people had been pulled alive from the rubble after the dawn explosion.
They said the cause of the blast, which brought down the whole multistory building block, was unknown.
Idlib Province is in one of the last areas of territory still held by rebels opposed to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.