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.

 

Egypt declares three-month state of emergency in Sinai

Lebanon army attacks Islamists as violence spreads to Tripoli souks

Dozens dead in Huthi-Qaeda clashes in central Yemen

Punishment for sexual assault in Iran: Execution of victim!

European clubs step up campaign against winter World Cup in Qatar

Turkey keeps 24 people under observation after yellow powder scare

Russia denies Kerry claims: No agreement to train Iraq army

Germany offers to help Armenia forge peace with Turkey

Libya wakes up from ‘Dubai dream’ to face Somalia-like ‘failed state’

South Yemen separatists vow to intensify secession protests

Relatives of Iraq massacre victims: Blackwater guards should be killed

Ghannouchi makes it clear to Tunisia: It’s either political Islam or Daesh!

Deadly clashes erupt after army raid in northern Lebanon

200 Iraqi Kurd fighters to travel through Turkey to Kobane

Coalition strikes in Syria eliminate more than 500 jihadists in one month

Ahead of elections, new clashes remind Tunisia of need to fight terror

Saudi Arabia jails mothers for preparing sons to wage jihad

Jury finds Blackwater guards guilty of 2007 'massacre' in Iraq

Iraq Kurds approve reinforcements for Kobane

Israel classifies car crash as ‘hit and run terror attack’

Turkish woman arrested for stepping on Koran

Erdogan criticises US for airdrops on Kobane

Iraq schools provide shelter but late to open for classes

Syria air force shoots down two of three 'IS warplanes'

Egypt court rules on ‘Nasr City terror cell’

Fire from Egypt wounds two Israeli soldiers near border

By hook or by crook, settlers notch up property gains in East Jerusalem

Turkey envoy meets leader of parallel government in Libya

Israel arrests seven Palestinian fishermen off northern Gaza

Khamenei to Abadi: Iraq can beat 'Islamic State' without foreign troops

Saudi special court rules in cases of riots and terrorism

Libya army scores small victory in Benghazi

Only in Libya: Government calls for civil disobedience

Kasserine reaps bitter harvest from Tunisia revolution: Poverty and terrorism

Iraq Kurds set to vote on deployment of Peshmerga forces to Syria

Islamic State ‘share in US weapons’ embarrasses Pentagon

Alderton: Morocco unrivalled business gateway to sub-Saharan Africa

Protests over IS turn Istanbul University into war zone

Turkey eyes stricter punishment against lawbreakers at protests

For Sudan President: Promises are something and re-election is something else

Iran returns Abadi to ‘house of obedience’

From traditional military to counterinsurgency force: Syria army grows more capable

South Sudan rivals accept 'responsibility' for civil war

British drones in Iraq also used for Syria surveillance

Turkey launches new wave of wire-tapping arrests