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Middle East

Multiple casualties reported in Aleppo blast

Large blast hits Aleppo neighbourhood in Syria, causing several casualties. It is unclear who was behind the attack.
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2013 17:21
Attacks come amid a spike in violence and a particularly bloody week nearly two years after an uprising started [AFP]

A massive blast has hit a neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo and caused several casualties, state television has said, blaming the rebels for the attack.

Syria TV said on Friday the explosion had been caused by a rocket fired by a "terrorist group" - a term it frequently uses to describe rebels in the 22-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Video broadcast on Syrian state TV showed several floors of the targeted building collapsed in a government-controlled area of the city, Syria's largest urban centre and main commercial hub.

A man was seen carrying a baby out of the damaged building and another man was seen clutching his head as blood ran down his forehead.

It was the second time in a week that the government accused rebels of firing rockets.

But opposition groups have said Assad's forces were behind the blast, which hit the Muhafaza Sakaniya neighbourhood in a western district of the city.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 12 people were killed in the Aleppo attack and dozens were wounded. The group relies on reports from activists on the ground.

Deraa attack

The state TV also reported that attacks had occurred near a mosque in southern city of Deraa, but gave no details regarding the casualty figures and the number of wounded.

The attack occurred when worshippers were leaving a mosque following Friday prayers in the southern city, the state TV said.

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The attacks come amid a spike in violence in Syria and a particularly bloody week as the uprising gets worse.

On Tuesday, 87 people were killed in twin blasts at Aleppo University.

Each side blamed the other for that attack. The regime said rebels hit the university with rockets, while rebels said the deaths resulted from regime airstrikes.

Meanwhile, airstrikes have continued in several suburbs of the Syrian capital. The heaviest fighting is being reported in Daraya, where rebel fighters have been holed up for weeks.

Activists said at least 11 civilians were killed, including four children, from one strike and others are still trapped under the rubble.

Also on Friday, fighting between Syrian rebels and Assad's loyalists flared in a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, killing 12 people and wounding at least 20 others, a UN refugee agency said.

Children were among the casualties, according to a statement issued by the UN Relief and Works Agency. The agency called on both sides to "pull back from civilian areas, including refugee camps".

The Palestinian camp called Yarmouk has been the scene of heavy clashes between rebels and regime loyalists since mid-December, when opposition fighters moved into the camp during an attempt to storm the capital.

About half of Yarmouk's 150,000 residents have fled since fighting erupted, according to UNRWA, which administers Palestinian camps in the Middle East.

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