Twenty months after uprising to topple Assad began, Islamists claim role in Aleppo bombings
SYRIA’s bloody internal struggle continued yesterday, with an Islamist group claiming responsibility for a series of bombings in the northern city of Aleppo on Wednesday, and rebels ambushing a bus carrying 21 members of the country’s elite Republican Guard in Damascus.
The SITE monitoring group said the Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for “blowing up dens” in a communiqué posted on Islamist forums and provided details of its Aleppo operation, pictures of the targeted buildings after the attacks, and the suicide bombers. The group said it targeted the Officers’ Club in Saadallah al-Jabiri Square, municipal offices, the Amir Hotel, and the Touristic Hotel, identifying each as being either command centres or barracks for security forces and “shabbiha,” pro-government militias.
Rebels fighting to overthrow president Bashar al-Assad announced last week a new offensive in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and commercial hub of 2.5 million people, but neither side has appeared to make significant gains so far.
The explosions also came a week after rebels bombed military command buildings in the heart of Damascus and clashed with security forces for several hours.
Meanwhile, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 21 Republican Guards were killed yesterday in an ambush on an army minibus in a suburb north-west of Damascus.
The Observatory quoted a medical source and witnesses as saying the troops had been killed in Qudsayya, which has been shelled by forces loyal to Mr Assad after rebels moved into the area. The Republican Guards are entrusted with defending the capital, and the army stepped up operations in Qudsayya on Wednesday morning, residents said.
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