Blasts continue to devastate Syria amid int'l condemnation

Blasts continue to devastate Syria amid int
# 16 January 2013 23:45 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. At least 24 people were killed and more than 30 wounded Wednesday when triple car bombs went off in a swift succession in Syria's northern province of Idlib, a day after at least 82 university students got killed in massive blasts in Aleppo city, which unleashed a barrage of international condemnation, APA reports.

Broad-based activists' network Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of the killed were soldiers when the three explosions hit army targets in Idlib, while local media said most of the killed were civilians, leaving the exact targets vague.

The state-run SANA news agency, however, reported only two blasts in Idlib, saying that two suicide bombers blew up their cars that had been packed with a big quantity of explosives, killing and wounding a number of people.

The report said the first explosion took place at al-Ziraa roundabout and the second car bomb exploded at al-Mutlaq roundabout, killing 22 people and wounding 30 others.

It added that the two blasts have caused big material damages at the sites.

No one claimed responsibility for the Idlib blasts, but Jabhat al-Nusra, an offshoot of al-Qaida, has previously claimed responsibility for similar attacks and blasts that targeted military and security positions.

The blasts came just one day after at least 82 people got killed in an explosion that devastated the main university of the country's northern city of Aleppo during the first day of students ' exams. The two sides of the conflict traded accusations over who was responsible for the attack.

On Tuesday, SANA said a "terrorist group" fired two rocket shells from al-Lairamoun area on Aleppo University, while activists said a government troop airstrike caused the carnage.

It reported that President Bashar al-Assad has given directives to rehabilitate, as soon as possible, what has been destroyed in Aleppo University at the hands of the "terrorist killers," a term the government uses to refer to the rebels.

Syrian Minister of Higher Education Mohammad Yahya Mu'ala was quoted by SANA as saying that the president gave his instructions to rehabilitate Aleppo University to ensure the process of education and exams.

"The ministry issued a decision to suspend study and exams at the Syrian universities on Wednesday to mourn the souls of the martyrs of Aleppo University who were assassinated at the hands of terrorists," Mu'ala added.

Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Ministry urged Wednesday the United Nations to condemn the Aleppo carnage.

In letters sent to the United Nations, the ministry said armed groups launched two rockets from al-Lairmoun roundabout toward the university on Tuesday, killing 82 students and injuring hundreds of others.

The attack also led to the collapse of the student dormitory in the university, which was used by the Syrian government as a shelter for the displaced people, the ministry said.

After condemning several regional and international countries for supporting what it called "terrorism," the ministry stressed that the incident will not dissuade Syria from combating terrorism and it will continue to implement its program for a political solution to the Syrian crisis based on the national dialogue with all components of the society.

Tuesday's incident was not the first, the ministry said, noting that armed militiamen have destroyed more than 2,362 schools during the long-standing crisis which broke out in March 2011.

Also, the Syrian army's general command said in a statement Wednesday that the troops had hit back hard against the armed groups in retaliation for the killing of the university students.

The army has dealt "harsh blows" to the terrorists and the mercenaries and attacked their gatherings in the area, inflicting significant losses in their ranks, according to the army's statement.

It added that this "cowardly criminal act" aimed to take revenge from the people of Aleppo, stressing that those acts would "further sustain its (the army's) resolve to implement its missions in chasing the remnants of terrorists and cleanse the homeland from their dirt."

The university blasts have also been condemned by international powers. Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that it "strongly condemns the mass murder of civilians in Syria. We believe the uncompromising attitude toward terrorism has been demanded by the international community."

Describing the attack as "barbaric," Moscow said it happened when normal life began to be restored in most Aleppo districts, adding that "this is obviously a merciless provocation, terrorists ' revenge for the losses they have suffered during confrontation with government forces."

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday strongly condemned what he called an "appalling attack" on the university, saying that "deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian targets constitutes a war crime."

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