Twin blasts rock Syrian city

Aleppo explosions kill 28 as Assads forces continue onslaught

At least 28 people were killed in two bomb attacks in Syria’s second city Aleppo on Friday while in besieged Homs, opposition neighbourhoods endured another day of bombardment by President Bashar al-Assad’s troops.

The Aleppo bombings were the worst violence to hit the country’s commercial hub since the uprising against the Assad family’s 42-year dynastic rule began 11 months ago.

Mangled, bloodied bodies and severed limbs lay on the pavement outside the military and security service buildings that were targeted — as shown in live footage on Syrian television, which has consistently portrayed the revolt against Assad as the work of foreign-backed “terrorists”.

No one claimed responsibility for the Aleppo bombings but they took place as Assad’s forces grow more ferocious in operations to crush the uprising. Some opposition figures said the government was manipulating the incidents to discredit them.

Friday saw more unrest across the country, with activists reporting that security forces opened fire in Latakia, in the town of Dael in Deraa province, and elsewhere to break up demonstrations taking place after weekly Muslim prayers.

In the western city of Homs, where a week of bombardments has killed dozens of civilians and drawn condemnation from world leaders, four people were killed in the opposition-held neighbourhoods of Baba Amro and Bab Sebaa, the activist Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Troops also opened fire as worshippers left a mosque in Homs after Friday prayers.

Activists in Homs said shelling started up again in the morning and they feared a big push was imminent to storm residential areas of the city that has come to symbolise the plight of those opposing the Assad government. “The carnage in Homs continues and the martyrdom of the Syrian people continues,” French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said. “Not only are we seeing an army that is masssacring its own people, but for the Syrian army hospitals and doctors have become systematic targets for repression.”

Russian role

But the unrelenting violence only highlighted the difficulties that Western and Arab powers faced in trying to resolve the crisis in a country with a well-armed military and a key place in the Middle East’s precarious strategic balance.

Bolstered by Russian support, Assad has ignored appeals from the United States, Turkey, Europeans, fellow Arabs and other governments to halt the repression and to step down.

Foreign ministers of the Arab League, which suspended a monitoring mission in Syria last month because of the violence, will discuss a proposal to send a joint UN-Arab mission to Syria when they meet in Cairo on Sunday, a League official said.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, added her voice to international calls for Moscow, Syria’s strongest ally and main arms supplier, to support a UN resolution demanding Assad halt the crackdown.

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