Explosions at Syria's Aleppo university kills 87: NGO

Explosions at Syria's Aleppo university kills 87: NGO

BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
Explosions at Syrias Aleppo university kills 87: NGO

AP Photo

The death toll from twin blasts that tore through the campus of Aleppo university has risen to 87, a watchdog said on Wednesday, making the attack one of the bloodiest in Syria's 22-month conflict.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts that rocked the university in Syria's northern commercial capital as students were sitting for their exams on Tuesday, but the government and rebels have blamed each other.

"The number of people killed in twin blasts on Tuesday has risen to 87," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"That number is likely to rise to 100 as body parts continue to be identified," the Britain-based monitoring group said, adding that around 150 people were wounded, some of them critically.

The university lies in a government-controlled area of the battleground northern city, which has been wracked by violence since last summer when regime forces launched an offensive to halt a rebel advance.

Opposition activists said government jets had carried out an air strike on the campus, but a military official said ground-to-air missiles fired by rebels had fallen short.

State television said "terrorists launched two rockets" at the campus.

A network of grassroots activists said the timing of the attack showed that the blasts were "part of a systematic plan to inflict as many casualties as possible in the university." The Local Coordination Committees, whose members have played an active role in organising protests against President Bashar al-Assad since March 15, 2011, said "the University of Aleppo will always remain a symbol of the uprising of the Syrian people." Elsewhere in Syria on Wednesday, the army sent reinforcements to the town of Daraya, southwest of Damascus, as it pressed an assault on rebel enclaves near the capital, said the Observatory.

"It's unbelievable how intense the shelling is," said Daraya-based anti-regime activist Abu Kinan, who spoke to AFP via the Internet.

"Every time the army takes a new position, the rebels fight the troops to take it back again. The clashes are fierce," Abu Kinan said.

Daraya has been riven by fighting in the past few weeks as the army advances into the town, which in mid-summer was the scene of the worst reported massacre in the Syrian civil war.

More than 60,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria's conflict, according to the United Nations.