Car bomb hits Syria's Aleppo killing at least 3

For 2nd day running, explosion attributed by state to terrorists hits near state security office; police crush Damascus march.

By REUTERS
March 18, 2012 15:43
2 minute read.
Syrian TV shows site of alleged terrorist bombing

Syria bombing 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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BEIRUT - A car bomb hit Syria's second city Aleppo on Sunday, a day after blasts killed 27 in Damascus, and security forces arrested and beat activists at a rare anti-government protest in the center of the capital.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that at least three people were killed and 25 wounded in the blast. The Observatory said the blast had been close to a state security office.

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State news channel Syria TV said the "terrorist" explosion had been between two residential buildings in the al-Suleimaniya district of Aleppo, behind a post office building.

It showed building fronts blasted open, masonry littering the street and a blood-spattered street corner.

Activists and the government traded blame for the explosion, as they have over previous bombings.

The TV channel showed pictures of bloody bodies and charred buildings from earlier blasts. "Their gift to us," said a caption, followed by a bloody handprint.

"Their fingerprints are obvious."

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But an activist in Aleppo from the opposition's local Revolutionary Council said the government was behind the attack.

"These explosions are always done by the regime to discourage people from joining the revolution ... they want to make our uprising seem like a terrorist operation to the rest of the world, but it is not," said the activist, who called himself Marwan and spoke to Reuters by telephone.

The opposition reported heavy raids by security forces and fighting with rebels in northern and southern Syrian provinces and suburbs of Damascus.

In the capital, as crowds gathered for memorials to victims of Saturday's car bombs, security forces broke up an opposition march of more than 200 people when protesters began shouting "the people want to topple the regime".

The phrase has echoed through the wave of Arab uprisings that began last year and has toppled autocratic rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

"They were walking through an area in central Damascus, near SANA (the state news agency). At first they shouted slogans against violence and the police didn't do anything, but as soon as they started to call for regime change the police rushed in and started beating people with canes," said Rami Abdelrahman, from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Battles rage on throughout Syria

Heavy fighting raged in the northwestern province of Deir Ezzor and military vehicles were torched, activists said on Sunday.

Rebels also blew up a bridge in southern Deraa, birthplace of the uprising, the Observatory said. The bridge had been used to transport supplies to security forces who surround the city.

The Observatory said security forces raided the town of Artouz, a Damascus suburb, looking for wanted men. The Local Coordination Committee said residents there could hear heavy gunfire.

In central Damascus, crowds of Syrians gathered at the sites of the two car bombings outside security bases on Saturday.

The state news channel Syria TV showed footage of charred apartments, shattered windows and debris.

Dozens of people waving Syrian flags gathered to pray for the victims.

"Whatever they want to do we won't be afraid," said one woman speaking to the channel. "We won't be afraid, we are with President Assad ... those who don't love Damascus should leave."

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