Twin car bombs in Syrian city of Aleppo kill at least 28


TWIN CAR bombs yesterday devastated a police station, a nearby food distribution centre and an intelligence base in Aleppo, Syria’s second city, killing at least 28 people and wounding 235, state media reported.

Televised scenes of dead children in a park and a multistorey block stripped of its outer wall shocked Syrians seeking a weekend respite from death and destruction.

The London-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 30.

An officer of the rebel Free Syrian Army claimed the operation, but this was denied by other spokesmen, revealing that the group does not have a coherent chain of command.

The rebels, under increasing military pressure in several quarters of the central city of Homs, accused the government of mounting the attacks to divert attention from military operations in Homs, Zabadani and elsewhere.

Opposition spokesmen previously blamed the regime for two bomb blasts in Damascus for which the government held al-Qaeda responsible, an attribution upheld by the US embassy before it withdrew its staff from Syria this past week.

Aleppo, a northern commercial hub, has been largely spared the violence that has gripped the country for 11 months and killed at least 5,400 civilians, according to a UN estimate, and 2,200 security personnel, according to the government.

In the Homs region, troops launched house-to-house searches for rebels and arms in the Inshaat, a neighbourhood on the northern border of Bab Amr, the focus of the government’s current assault, which has been under the control of rebel forces for several weeks.

Activists reported that 20 people had died in Homs and another 22 across the country, excluding Aleppo.

Security forces were deployed heavily in the Midan district of Damascus, where worshippers often stage protests following noon prayers.

Although social-network activists using the internet to get their message out had called for demonstrations under the slogan “Russia is killing our children”, few protesters turned out.

Moscow, which vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to delegate power, blamed the opposition.

Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Rybakov said the opposition “bears full responsibility” for the violence and accused the West of encouraging the opposition to engage in armed conflict.

European Council president Herman Van Rompuy charged Syria with committing “outrageous and unacceptable atrocities against its people”.

The Syrian National Council, formed by the opposition in exile, has said it expects several Arab governments to follow the example of post-revolution Libya by recognising the organisation in coming days.

Marchers yesterday converged on Tahrir Square and the defence ministry in Cairo to demand an immediate end to military rule. Egyptians, however, are divided over the general strike and civil disobedience campaign set to begin today.