Blasts kill scores

Syrian rebel fighters hit by a blast from an army tank in Aleppo on Saturday.

AMMAN — Two bombs exploded simultaneously last night next to Syrian army compounds in the northern city of Aleppo, killing and wounding scores of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, residents and opposition activists said.

The bombs targeted makeshift barracks and the military police headquarters, situated in two adjacent sealed off districts in the centre of the city, said several residents and opposition campaigners from Aleppo.

The state news agency said an explosion near a hospital and a school in the Municipal Stadium district killed 17 people and wounded at least 40. Residents said the facilities were used to house soldiers fighting an 18-month uprising against Assad.

“The army had taken over the neighbourhood and emptied it from residents. The hospital was turned into army barracks,” said activist Ahmad Saeed.

A woman living near the area said the casualty figure “appeared to be over 100”, judging from the number of ambulances ferrying the wounded and dead from the area.

The Noble Aleppo brigade of the Free Syrian Army said in a statement it carried out the Muncipal Stadium district attack, killing or wounding 200 troops. It said the bombs were planted inside the buildings in cooperation with a loyalist sympathiser.

Syrian warplanes earlier bombed a residential district to the east after rebels overran army barracks there, killing and wounding dozens of people and exacerbating a water shortage in Syria’s biggest city after a pipeline burst, activists said.

Assad has resorted increasingly to aerial bombardment to keep rebels fighting to overthrow him in check after they took control of residential neighbourhoods and made forays into the centre of Aleppo, Syria’s commercial and industrial capital.

The uprising has polarised global powers, preventing effective international intervention, and is turning increasingly sectarian with the risk of spillover into adjacent Arab states with similar communal divisions.

Insurgent advances have forced Assad to deploy warplanes, major armoured forces and thousands of troops to prevent the fall of Aleppo, which would free up supply lines to the interior of Syria from Turkey where rebels have sheltered. (Reuters)

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