Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Aleppo blast, car bombs cap bloody week in Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A rocket slammed into a building in Syria's northern city of Aleppo, and two suicide bombers struck near a mosque in the south Friday, capping a particularly bloody week in the country's civil war with more than 800 civilians killed, including an unusually large proportion in government-held areas.

The residential building struck in Aleppo was in a part of the city controlled by regime forces, as was a university hit earlier in the week in an attack that killed 87 people, mostly students. The government accused rebels in both attacks, saying they hit the locations with rockets, a claim the opposition denies.

But if confirmed, it would signal that the rebels have acquired more sophisticated weapons from captured regime bases and are now using them to take the fight more into government-held areas in an attempt to break a monthslong stalemate in the war.

Rebels have in the past posted videos showing them capturing heavy rockets — apparently of the style fired from truck-mounted launchers — at regime military bases that they have overrun. But it is not clear whether the fighters have — or are able to use— any of the ballistics. The rebels' main weapons are automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Rockets would for the first time give them a greater range, an advantage that until now the regime military has overwhelmingly held, with its arsenal of warplanes, helicopters, artillery, rockets and mortars. Regime bombardment has caused heavy civilian casualties — and if the rebels start blasting back with sometimes inaccurate rockets, the civilian toll would probably rise.

But the opposition has denied being behind the Aleppo university strike and the hit Friday on the residential building, which one activist group, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, said killed 12 people.

Friday's strike in Aleppo and the suicide car bombings in the southern town of Daraa occurred during a particularly bloody week in Syria's nearly two-year-old conflict. Since the previous Friday, more than 1,000 people have been killed, including 804 civilians, 214 soldiers and 20 army defectors fighting with the rebels, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based activist group.

An Al-Jazeera TV correspondent was killed in Syria on Friday, the second journalist to lose his life in as many days covering the civil war. Mohammed al-Masalmeh was shot to death by a sniper while covering fighting in his hometown of Busra al-Harir in the south. A day earlier, French journalist Yves Debay was killed by a sniper in Aleppo.

About 200 civilians were killed this week in government-controlled areas. The bulk of them died in the strike on the university in Aleppo and in a mass killing Thursday in the central town of Haswiyeh, where opposition activists say a pro-government militia torched houses and killed more than 100 people.

Comments
Greenland's center-left win elections, coalition talks ahead

Greenland's center-left win elections, coalition talks ahead

Greenland's ruling center-left Siumut party has topped the polls in the election for the sparsely populated Arctic island's parliament, but both it and its main rival saw their votes reduced
Updated: 1 hour ago

Afghanistan's Taliban announce annual spring offensive

The Taliban have announced their annual spring offensive in Afghanistan, at a time when insurgents are already regularly launching attacks and battling security forces
Updated: 1 hour ago
Asian stocks slip following sell-off on Wall Street

Asian stocks slip following sell-off on Wall Street

Asian shares are slipping, mirroring a sell-off on Wall Street on jitters over slowing growth and falling company profits
Updated: 1 hour ago

EU leader says current Iran nuclear deal should be kept

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says the current deal with Iran is working effectively to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and should be preserved for the future
Updated: 1 hour ago
Verdict expected in submarine death of Swedish journalist

Verdict expected in submarine death of Swedish journalist

A verdict is expected at the Copenhagen City Court on whether Danish inventor Peter Madsen tortured and murdered a Swedish journalist during a private submarine trip
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tourists enjoy final day at beach before Boracay closure

Tourists enjoy final day at beach before Boracay closure

Tourists are spending their final hours on Boracay, enjoying the Philippine island's famed white-sand beaches before it closes for up to 6 months to recover from overcrowding and development
Updated: 1 hour ago
On Basketball: And now, Wade decides if this was the end

On Basketball: And now, Wade decides if this was the end

Retirement is a very real option for Miami star Dwyane Wade, and he isn't sure what his future holds
Updated: 1 hour ago
On Basketball: And now, Wade decides if this was the end

On Basketball: And now, Wade decides if this was the end

Retirement is a very real option for Miami star Dwyane Wade, and he isn't sure what his future holds
Updated: 1 hour ago

AP Top News at 3:12 a.m. EDT

AP Top News at 3:12 a.m. EDT
Updated: 1 hour ago
GOP unsettled by narrow win in US House race in Arizona

GOP unsettled by narrow win in US House race in Arizona

It took a big money push from the Republican Party, tweets by the president and the support of the state's current and former governors, but the GOP held onto an Arizona U.S. House seat they would have never considered endangered in any other year
Updated: 1 hour ago