Explosions rock Syrian city of Aleppo, state TV blames ‘terrorist gangs’

Explosions rock Syrian city of Aleppo, state TV blames ‘terrorist gangs’.

People gather around the entrance of a damaged building after a car bomb blew up at security sites in Damascus Dec. 23, 2011. (Reuters)

People gather around the entrance of a damaged building after a car bomb blew up at security sites in Damascus Dec. 23, 2011. (Reuters)

Explosions rocked Syria’s second largest city of Aleppo on Friday, state television and activists said, adding that one of the blasts was near a military intelligence building.

Syrian state television reported that 11 people, including soldiers, were killed in two explosions, which It blamed the attack on “armed terrorist gangs.”

The television said one of the blasts targeted a military intelligence center and the other a center for the security forces.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP there were three blasts in the northern city, a main commercial hub.

They occurred in the neighborhoods of Sakhur and Marjeh and the Dawar el-Basel roundabout.

Speaking to Al Arabiya by phone from Aleppo, a resident accused the regime of standing behind explosion. The resident, who called himself Abu Obeida, said the blast was first heard near the military intelligence building and about half an hour later white smoke was seen rising from the scene.

He said the building is heavily fortified and would be almost impossible for any group to come near it and carry out attacks.

Aleppo, Syria’s main commercial hub, had been relatively quiet during the 11-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad but has seen increasing protests and violence in recent weeks.

On Dec. 23, suicide car bombers struck Damascus in what was then the bloodiest violence in the capital since the revolt against Assad began.

At least 44 people were killed then and the government blamed al Qaeda for the attack, which took place one day after the arrival of an Arab League observer mission.

On Jan. 6, a suicide bomber killed 26 people and wounded 63 in Damascus. Syria’s Interior Minister Ibrahim al-Shaar vowed an “iron-fist response” to the attack.

Elsewhere in the violence-torn country, tanks stormed a neighborhood in the flashpoint central city of Homs as soldiers launched a house-to-house sweep of the area to crush regime opponents on Friday, activists said.

“The tanks entered the neighborhood of Inshaat overnight,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

He said troops were still deploying to the area early Friday.

Inshaat is next to the protest hub of Baba Amr in Homs, which has been wilting under a sustained week-long assault by regime forces that has killed more than 400 people, activists say.

Russia on Friday said the Syrian opposition bore full responsibility for the ongoing violence and accused the West of being an “accomplice” that pushed the regime’s opponents into armed conflict.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the ITAR-Tass news agency the opposition’s refusal to enter direct talks with the Syrian government meant it “bears full responsibility for improving the situation,” accusing the West of being “accomplices in the process of inflaming the crisis.”

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