AZAZ, Syria - At least 11 people were killed and 40 wounded
when a car bomb exploded at a crowded petrol station in the Syrian capital
Damascus on Thursday, opposition activists said.
The station was packed
with people queuing for fuel that has become increasingly scarce during the
country's 21-month-long insurgency aimed at overthrowing President Bashar Assad.
The semi-official al-Ikhbariya television station showed
footage of 10 burnt bodies and Red Crescent workers searching for victims at the
The opposition Revolution Leadership Council in Damascus said the
explosion was caused by a booby-trapped car.
There was no immediate
indication of who was responsible for the bombing in the Barzeh al-Balad
district, whose residents include members of the Sunni Muslim majority and other
religious and ethnic minorities.
"The station is usually packed even when
it has no fuel," said an opposition activist who did not want to be named.
"There are lots of people who sleep there overnight, waiting for early morning
fuel consignments." It was the second time that a petrol station has been hit in
Damascus this week
. Dozens of people were incinerated in an air strike as they
waited for fuel on Wednesday, according to opposition sources.
northern Syria, rebels were battling to seize an air base in their campaign
against the air power that Assad has used to bomb rebel-held towns.
than 60,000 people have been killed in the uprising and civil war, the United
Nations said this week, a much higher death toll than previously
thought.Dramatic advances over 2012
After dramatic advances over the second half
of 2012, the rebels now hold wide swathes of territory in the north and east,
but they cannot protect towns and villages from Assad's helicopters and
Hundreds of rebel fighters were attempting to storm the Taftanaz
air base, near the highway that links Syria's two main cities, Aleppo and
A rebel fighter speaking from near the Taftanaz base overnight
said much of the base was still in loyalist hands but insurgents had managed to
destroy a helicopter and a fighter jet on the ground.
The northern rebel
Idlib Coordination Committee said the rebels had detonated a car bomb inside the
The government's SANA news agency said the base had not fallen and
that the military had "strongly confronted an attempt by the terrorists to
attack the airport from several axes, inflicting heavy losses among them and
destroying their weapons and munitions".
Rami Abdulrahman, head of the
opposition-aligned Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which monitors the
conflict from Britain, said as many as 800 fighters were involved in the
assault, including Islamists from Jabhat al-Nusra, a powerful group that
Washington considers terrorists.
Taftanaz is mainly a helicopter base,
used for missions to resupply army positions cut off by the rebels, as well as
for dropping crude "barrel bombs" on rebel-controlled areas.
another northern air base that rebels have surrounded, government forces have
retaliated by shelling and bombing nearby towns.Nightly bombardments
the town of Azaz, where the bombardment has become a near nightly occurrence,
shells hit a family house overnight. Zeinab Hammadi said her two wounded
daughters, aged 10 and 12, had been rushed across the border to Turkey, one with
her brain exposed.
"We were sleeping and it just landed on us in the
blink of an eye," she said, weeping as she surveyed the damage.
members tried to salvage possessions from the wreckage, men lifting out
furniture and children carrying out their belongings in tubs.
wants revenge against the people," said Abu Hassan, 33, working at a garage near
the destroyed house. "What is the fault of the children? Are they the ones
fighting?" Opposition activists said warplanes struck a residential building in
another rebel-held northern town, Hayyan, killing at least eight
Video footage showed men carrying dismembered bodies of
children and dozens of people searching for victims in the rubble. The
provenance of the video could not be independently confirmed.
to their tenuous grip on the north, the rebels also hold a crescent of suburbs
on the edge of Damascus, which have come under bombardment by government forces
that control the centre of the capital.
On Wednesday, according to
opposition activists, dozens of people died in an inferno caused by an air
strike on a petrol station in a Damascus suburb where residents were lining up
The civil war in Syria has become the longest and bloodiest of
the conflicts that rose out of uprisings across the Arab world in the past two
Assad's family has ruled for 42 years since his father seized
power in a coup. The war pits rebels, mainly from the Sunni Muslim majority,
against a government supported by members of Assad's Shi'ite-derived Alawite
minority sect and some members of other minorities who fear revenge if he
The West, most Sunni-ruled Arab states and Turkey have called for
Assad to step down. He is supported by Russia and Shi'ite Iran.
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