Syria blames ‘terrorists’ as 25 die and 175 wounded in two blasts

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AT least 25 people were killed and 175 wounded in two explosions that targeted security compounds in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo yesterday.

State television blamed “terrorists” for the blasts, following the regime line that armed groups looking to destabilise Syria are behind the uprising.

However, opposition activists accused President Bashar Assad’s regime of setting off the explosions.

The blasts were the first significant violence in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, which has largely stood by President Bashar Assad during the nearly 11-month-old uprising against his rule.

The TV quoted the Health Ministry in giving the casualty figures.

Two earlier bombings in Damascus in December and January that killed dozens prompted similar exchanges of accusations. No one has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks.

Outside the compound of the Military Intelligence Directorate, hit by one of the morning explosions, a weeping correspondent on state-run TV showed graphic footage of at least five corpses, collected in sacks and under blankets by the side of the road.

Debris filled the street and residential buildings appeared to have their windows shattered. But the location did not appear to be closed off, as local residents milled around the site, with few uniformed police around.

No emergency vehicles or ambulances were visible in the footage and there was no sign of wounded, as earth-moving equipment was seen clearing the rubble.

The presenter said the blast went off near a park where children were playing and claimed children were also killed. Although it lingered over the adult bodies, the TV footage did not show any child victims.

The second blast went off outside police headquarters in another part of the city.

Mohammed Abu-Nasr, an Aleppo-based activist, blamed Assad’s regime for the explosions, insisting the opposition would not carry out bombings in residential areas.

“Had the opposition wanted to detonate bombs they would not do that in a residential area,” he said. “The opposition and the Free Syrian Army don’t kill civilians,” he said, referring to the force of army defectors that frequently attacks regime military forces.

So far, Assad’s opponents have had little success in galvanising support in Aleppo, in part because the business leaders have long traded political freedoms for economic privileges. The city of about two million also has a large population of Kurds, who have mostly stayed on the sidelines of the uprising since Assad’s regime began giving them citizenship, which they had long been denied