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Free Syrian Army blames Assad for Aleppo bombing

After an apparent admission on FRANCE 24 by a senior member of the Free Syrian Army, the organisation’s overall commander has denied his group had set off twin blasts that claimed some 25 lives in the city of Aleppo.

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Confusion reigned Friday, as the head of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) Col. Colonel Riad al-Asaad denied that his forces were responsible for a twin bombing in the country’s largest city Aleppo.

The denial followed an admission by FSA Col. Aref Hammoud to FRANCE 24 that it was indeed his forces who were responsible for the bomb attack in which 25 people were reportedly killed and scores more injured.

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Col. Colonel Riad al-Asaad, in overall command of the FSA, however later told FRANCE 24 that the bombs had been set off by government forces to discredit the opposition and avert protests planned in the city on Friday.

FSA forces, he said, had been engaged in a fire fight with government troops before the twin separate blasts shook the city.

“The FSA fighters had withdrawn from the area, and then they heard the explosions,” he said. “But these were not set off by the FSA. The government organised these explosions to discredit us and to draw attention away from what it is doing elsewhere, killing ordinary people.”

Obeida Nahas, a spokesman for the Syrian National Council, added to the confusion by stating that it was not in the FSA’s remit to attack government institutions at all, and that he did not believe opposition fighters would have detonated bombs against government institutions.

“The FSA’s whole strategy is to protect civilians,” Nahas told FRANCE 24. “There is also an agreement between the FSA and us not to attack government targets, which are considered to be owned by the Syrian people, and not the government.”

Antoine Basbous, of the Paris-based Arab Countries Observatory, concluded that Friday’s miscommunication and confusion over responsibility for the attacks came down to the relative disorganisation of the FSA.

“It is not surprising that we get confused messages,” he told FRANCE 24 “The FSA is a young organisation that is lacking in structure and is badly organised. They operate in small units which still do not communicate or coordinate effectively with each other.”

According to state TV, the explosions at the Military Intelligence Directorate and the police headquarters were caused by “terrorists”.

The Aleppo blasts were the latest in a series of bombings that the opposition says the regime has sought to blame on them, including a January 6 suicide bombing in Damascus in which 26 people were killed and twin blasts two weeks before outside the capital’s intelligence agency which claimed 44 lives.

Meanwhile, the Assad regime continued its assault on the restive city of Homs Friday, where hundreds of people are believed to have been killed in relentless shelling over the past week.

Observers reported that government troops were preparing to move in to neighbourhoods that have been under opposition control for months.

Elsewhere in Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees reported that troops had opened fire to disperse thousands of protesters in the northwestern city of Latakia after Friday prayers, as well as in the southern city of Daraa and some suburbs of Damascus.

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