Bombs tear into Syria's Aleppo, killing nearly 50
04 October, 2012
ALEPPO/BEIRUT: Three car bombs tore Wednesday into the heart of Syria's second city Aleppo, killing almost 50 people, mostly troops, as the regime launched an offensive against rebels near Damascus, a watchdog said.
Rebel fighters killed at least 15 soldiers, when they attacked military posts in the northwest of the country, triggering fierce clashes, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
And the bloodshed spilled across the Syrian border when several shells from the conflict crashed into the Turkish town of Akcakale, killing at least five people and wounding nine, witnesses said.
In Aleppo, two car bombs went off in quick succession around Saadallah al-Jabiri Square near a military officers' club, ripping off part of a hotel's facade and flattening a two-storey cafe, an AFP correspondent reported.
A man, whose family owns a coffee shop overlooking the square, described the sound of the blasts as "terrifying".
"I ran to my parents' room and found their faces covered in blood," said the man, who identified himself only as Omar. "Most of the people rescued from under the rubble of the hotel were soldiers."
A third bomb exploded soon afterwards at an entrance to the Old City in the nearby district of Bab Jnein, the Observatory and a military official said.
At least 48 people were killed and almost 100 wounded, the Britain-based Observatory said, citing medics. "Most of them were regime troops," it added.
An official in Aleppo put the toll at "37 dead and dozens injured." "We heard two enormous explosions, as though the gates of hell were opening," Hassan, a 30-year-old employee of a nearby hotel, said.
"I saw thick smoke, and I helped a woman on the pavement whose arms and legs were completely dislocated," said Hassan, who gave only one name.
The owner of a shop a block away from the officers' club said: "I pulled out from the rubble a child less than 10 years old who has lost a leg."
"The rebels are now attacking regime troops in the heart of the city," Observatory director Abdel Rahman said.
"Before, the centre was spared from violence. Now, we can say that barring some districts, Aleppo is no longer a safe city.
"This is part of the decisive battle, and the regime can no longer claim to control the city," he added.
In the northwestern province of Idlib, rebels killed at least 15 troops when they attacked and destroyed three army posts in the village of Bdama, near Jisr al-Shughur, said Abdel Rahman.
The UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is due back in the region this week to try to revive talks aimed at ending the bloodshed, officials said.
Jan Eliasson, deputy to the UN chief, said he did not know if Brahimi would be able to enter Syria, but hoped to persuade the Assad regime to "go in the direction of a reduction of violence."
A shadowy jihadist group claimed responsibility for the execution of 20 Syrian troops in the battleground city of Aleppo last month.