First Published: 2013-01-16

 

Mayhem in Syria’s Aleppo student campus blast

 

Twin blasts rip through university buildings in Aleppo, killing at least 82 people on first day of exams.

 

Middle East Online

Regime forces and rebels blamed each other for the carnage

DAMASCUS - Twin blasts ripped through university buildings in Syria's second city Aleppo on Tuesday killing at least 82 people and wounding scores more, on the first day of exams for students.

Regime forces and rebels blamed each other for the carnage, in a government-controlled area of the battleground northern city.

"So far there are 82 fatalities and more than 160 wounded in a terrorist attack that targeted students on their first day of exams at the University of Aleppo," Governor Mohammed Wahid Akkad said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 83 people had been killed in the blasts and at least 150 others wounded, some critically.

While opposition activists said government jets had carried out an air strike, a military official said ground-to-air missiles fired by rebels had fallen short.

State television said "terrorists launched two rockets" at the campus.

State news agency SANA said "it was the first day of exams. Students and displaced people were among the victims".

As well as students, the university campus houses some 30,000 people who have fled parts of the city ravaged by fighting since rebels seized many neighbourhoods last July.

Some of those displaced people were among the casualties SANA reported, citing an official source.

Video footage posted online by students showed tearful survivors taking refuge in a campus building.

The explosions struck an area near the university dormitories and the architecture faculty, the Observatory said, adding "the nature of the explosions is still unclear.

"There are conflicting reports of air raids and two explosions on the ground."

Nationwide, at least 152 people were killed on Tuesday, 128 of them civilians, the Britain-based watchdog said.

It also said dozens of people had been killed or wounded when Syrian troops stormed rebel positions near a military academy in the central province of Homs Tuesday.

The Syrian Revolution General Council accused regime forces of having "committed a massacre" there, saying "more than 24 people were summarily executed and their homes and bodies were burned".

The latest violence came as Russia rejected as "counterproductive" Swiss-led efforts at the UN Security Council to seek prosecution of key figures in Assad's regime before the International Criminal Court.

Only the Security Council has the right to refer the Syria case to the Hague-based court because Syria is not an ICC member.

Russia, a traditional Syrian ally, has vetoed three prior council resolutions sanctioning Assad. It said Tuesday that a war crimes referral could only escalate the crisis.

Moscow also once again reaffirmed its support for a Syrian transition plan agreed by world powers in June that was never implemented because of the fighting.

It called for the quick creation of an interim government with full powers, but it never assigned a clear role for Assad -- and that issue has been interpreted differently by Russia and the West.

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi arrived in Tehran on Tuesday for talks with Damascus's key regional ally, state television reported.

The Fars news agency said the two sides would discuss "Assad's three-step plan" for the political future, which he presented on January 6.

The opposition and Western governments rejected Assad's plan, saying it was detached from reality. It offered dialogue but only with opposition groups he deemed acceptable, not "terrorists" led by foreigners.

Iran has supplied financial aid to Syria and has confirmed sending military advisers to assist in the regime's nearly 22-month crackdown.

According to UN figures, more than 60,000 people have been killed in the violence in Syria since March 2011.

Washington meanwhile brushed aside a report of a leaked State Department cable indicating that Syria had used chemical weapons during the crackdown.

Foreign Policy, an online magazine, said it had acquired a report by US diplomats in Turkey that made a "compelling case" Damascus had used poison gas.

But National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said there was no evidence Syria had taken new steps towards using chemical weapons.

 

Two Danes stabbed by man shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ in Gabon

UN considers rejecting Trump Jerusalem decision

Israeli air traffic halted due to strikes

Iran's schools suffocate in smog

Christmas in Jordan dimmed by Jerusalem crisis

Turkey slams Austria ‘discrimination’

Tunisia elections delayed

Istanbul summit strong on the rhetoric, weak on concrete steps

Morocco’s Islamists elect new leader, walking away from predecessor’s populism

Palestinians call for protests against Pence Jerusalem visit

Palestinian billionaire detained in Saudi Arabia

Egypt opens Rafah crossing for four days

Turkey court releases 7 suspects in New Year attack trial

Palestinian activist killed in Gaza protests

Foreign fighters a worry as IS struggles to survive

Over half Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in 'extreme poverty'

Palestinians killed in continuing protests over Jerusalem occupation

Bourita: Extraordinary meeting between ECOWAS, Morocco to be held beginning of 2018

Saudi-led air strikes, clashes as Yemen forces battle rebels

Sahel force funding shows terrorism fight is Saudi 'priority'

UN 'appalled' at mass execution of jihadists in Iraq

Iraq's Sistani says Hashed should be under government control

Middle-class Egypt adapts as costs soar

Somalia's budget meets IMF terms

Israel PM questioned in graft probe

US says Iran supplied ballistic missile to Yemen rebels

Lebanon approves bid for oil, gas exploration

US to present 'irrefutable evidence' of Iran violations

Istanbul 'to remove Gulen links' from street names

Iraq hangs 38 jihadists

Pence to visit Middle East despite controversy

Hamas chief calls for continued Jerusalem protests

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months

Syria Kurds fear US ally will desert them after IS defeat

Israeli drugmaker Teva to cut 14,000 jobs over two years

Turkey rescues 51 migrants stranded on rocks

Saudi, UAE hold talks with Yemen Islamists

18 killed after bomber strikes Mogadishu police academy

Israeli air strikes target Hamas military facilities

US-led air strikes kill 23 civilians in Syria

Israel union calls nationwide strike over pharmaceutical giant job cuts

UN envoy urges Putin to press Assad for elections

Yemen's Huthi rebels release pro-Saleh media staff

Israel intelligence minister invites Saudi prince to visit

Saudi-led strikes kill 30 in rebel-run Yemen prison