Anti-government forces launched coordinated attacks on the downtown area of Syria’s commercial hub of Aleppo yesterday, as mortar rounds and suicide attackers with car bombs left at least 33 people dead and 75 injured, state television said.
Two explosions occurred minutes apart at the Saadallah al-Jabri Square, a popular part of the city that includes a military officer’s club and a hotel, Syrian state television said. They were caused by vans rigged with more than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of explosives, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by Syrian Television.
A third car rigged with 500 kilograms of explosives blew up near the municipality, the ministry said. The three attacks were carried out by suicide bombers, the ministry said.
Syrian rebels seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad last week announced a push to drive out government troops from the city. The Syrian army plans an offensive in the eastern part of the city to dislodge the rebels, the pro-government Al-Watan newspaper said yesterday.
A fourth attack was caused by a car that blew up near the central bank and the chamber of commerce as authorities were dismantling a 1,000-kilogram bomb inside it, the Interior Ministry said. It said “terrorists” blew it up remotely.
The effects of the blasts were multiplied as mortar rounds fell on the square and three gunmen wearing explosives belts and Syrian army uniforms walked into the area, the station said. It said they were caught and killed.
Rescue workers at the scene removed body parts and debris littering the streets. Footage on state television also showed two cafes wrecked in the blasts and residential buildings flattened.
In Turkey, a Syrian shell hit a house in the center of a border town, killing a woman and her four children and marking the first Turkish deaths from cross-border Syrian fire. Labor Minister Faruk Celik told members of Turkey’s parliament that five people were killed and eight wounded, two of whom were in serious condition.
Turkey’s army fired across the Syrian border in response to shelling from Syria.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said authorities have begun an investigation into the sources of the firing into Turkey, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported, citing Syrian TV. Al-Zoubi offered the Syrian government’s condolences to the family of those killed in the incident and to the Turkish people, SANA reported.
Regional and international efforts have failed to end 19 months of bloodshed in Syria which has killed more than 30,000 people, according to estimates by the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syrian security forces killed at least 122 people across the country yesterday, most of them in Damascus and its suburbs, the Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group, said in an e-mailed statement. The estimates couldn’t be independently verified.