- Bashar al-Assad - Blast - Syria - unrest
Car bombs kill scores in central Aleppo
Three car bombs exploded in the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday, killing at least 48 people and wounding more than 90 others, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
At least three car bombs exploded in the centre of Syria's northwestern city Aleppo on Wednesday, killing 48 people and injuring 90 others, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Two blasts were initially reported at Saadallah al-Jabiri Square near a military officers' club and a hotel, the Observatory said.
Syrian state television, however, reported "three terrorist explosions" in the city and broadcast scenes of massive damage to several buildings in the square. Another car bomb was reportedly detonated in the nearby Bab Jnein district after the initial blasts.
An AFP correspondent in Aleppo described hearing two loud explosions that caused huge plumes of smoke.
The facade of the hotel was destroyed and a cafe collapsed. One person emerged from the hotel with his face covered in blood, the correspondent said. All government buildings were immediately closed after the blast.
Aleppo, Syria's commercial capital with a population of 1.7 million people, has become one of the focal points of the nearly 19-month-long crisis in the country.
Several districts of Aleppo were also bombed on Tuesday, according to the Observatory, while pro-regime daily Al-Watan said that extra troops were being sent to Aleppo.
"New reinforcements have arrived to support the army ... and the armed men (rebels) are now fatigued and have begun to flee to their villages and towns in the province of Aleppo and elsewhere," Al-Watan reported.
Fighting at the weekend rocked the centuries-old UNESCO-listed souk in the heart of Aleppo, sparking a fire that damaged hundreds of shops.
More than 31,000 people have been killed since unrest first erupted in Syria in March, 2011, following a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Opposition to Assad began as peaceful protests to demand reform, but morphed into an armed insurgency after demonstrations were brutally crushed.
Most rebels, like the population, are Sunni in a country dominated by a minority Alawite regime.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)