At least 40 people were killed and 90 wounded in a spate of car bombs tearing through the heart of Aleppo today.
Car bombs rip through Aleppo, killing dozens
DAMASCUS // A spate of car bombs tore through the heart of Aleppo today, killing at least 40 people and wounding 90, officials said, in the latest wave of violence to engulf Syria's battered commercial capital.
The bombings were the deadliest in Syria's raging civil war since August 28, when a car bomb targeted the funeral of two government loyalists in a Damascus suburb, also killing 27 people.
Three car bombs exploded earlier today around Aleppo's Saadallah Al Jabiri Square near a military officers' club and a hotel, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, which reported that "many soldiers" were among the dead and wounded.
A city official, speaking on condition of anonymity, gave an initial toll of 27 dead and 72 hurt but said the toll could rise "because many people were badly injured".
State television reported "three terrorist explosions" in the city and broadcast scenes of massive destruction of buildings in the square.
An AFP correspondent reported hearing loud blasts, which caused huge plumes of smoke to billow across the city.
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, with a population of 1.7 million people, has been one of the flash points of the conflict roiling the country.
Several districts of Aleppo were also bombed yesterday, the Observatory said, while pro-regime daily Al Watan reported 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," it said in a report yesterday.
Fighting at the weekend rocked the Unesco-listed souq in the heart of Aleppo and sparked a fire that damaged hundreds of shops.
Bombings are increasingly becoming part of the unrest, which began in March last year as peaceful protests for reform but has since morphed into an armed insurgency, with more than 31,000 people killed, according to activists.