Syrian Soldiers Killed by Aleppo Blast as Army Attacks Homs

Syrian soldiers and civilians were killed and injured in explosions in the city of Aleppo as President Bashar Al-Assad’s army shelled and surrounded rebels in Homs.

The blasts killed at least 25 people and wounded 175, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported, citing the Health Ministry. They targeted a military security branch and police headquarters, it said.

Syrian security forces have renewed efforts to crush the uprising against Assad’s rule since Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Feb. 4. The resolution had aimed to facilitate a political solution to a conflict that has killed more than 5,400 people since it began in March last year, according to UN estimates.

Tanks were massing outside opposition-controlled neighborhoods in Homs, Al Jazeera television said today, citing activists. Shelling of the city continued, killing 39 people, Al Arabiya reported, citing the Syrian Revolution Committee. At least 56 were killed nationwide, the channel said.

The attacks in Aleppo caused damage to the two headquarters and nearby residential buildings, the Syrian news service said. Images on the agency’s website showed workers searching through rubble and a building with a Syrian flag draped outside and its windows blown out.

‘Confidence Shaken’

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah said today that the world’s confidence in the UN was “shaken” after the Russian and Chinese veto. “We are in scary days,” the king said in a speech carried on the official Saudi Press Agency.

The kingdom has joined other Gulf Arab countries in isolating the Assad government. The Gulf Cooperation Council’s six members announced on Feb. 7 that they were expelling Syrian ambassadors from their capitals. Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said Syria may have reached a “point of no return” on public television’s “Charlie Rose” program.

The prospect of civil war has been growing as the daily death toll mounts and Assad uses tanks and artillery in cities where the opposition is demanding the end of his rule. More than 300 people have died during the siege of Homs since Feb. 3, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.

‘Tactically Successful’

“Recent operations against activists and armed wings of the opposition are proving to be somewhat tactically successful,” New York-based Eurasia Group, which monitors political risk, said in an e-mailed note. “At the same time, the intensity of clashes indicates that it would be very difficult to fully suppress the uprising. In the next few months, Syria will transition from civil conflict into civil war.”

Russia is seeking to broker talks between the Syrian government and the opposition, while China has suggested further cooperation at the UN. France is pressing for deepening ties with Syrian protesters. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is in Washington to consult with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The Arab League backed a plan for a unity government leading to elections.

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