October 4, 2012 – 3:57am By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY The Associated Press
BEIRUT — Three suicide bombers detonated cars packed with explosives in a government-controlled area of the battleground Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday, killing at least 34 people, levelling buildings and trapping survivors under the rubble, state TV said. More than 120 people were injured, the government said.
A fourth explosion a few hundred meters away struck near the edge of the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site that has been heavily damaged during more than two months of fierce fighting between rebels and government forces for control of the Aleppo.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the government blamed its opponents and said the blasts were caused by suicide bombers. The technique is a signature style of al-Qaida-style jihadist groups, some of which are known to have entered Syria’s civil war to fight against the regime.
The transformation of Syria’s conflict into an open war has given an opening to foreign fighters and extremists, analysts say. The Syrian government has always blamed the uprising on foreign terrorists, even though the revolt began as peaceful protests by ordinary citizens that turned violent after repeated attacks by security forces.
The Syrian opposition denies any links to terrorists or any use of suicide attacks. A Sunni extremist group called Jabhat al-Nusra, or Victory Front, has claimed responsibility for previous bombings.
Rebels last week announced a new concerted push to capture Aleppo, where they have been battling with regime troops since July. Syria’s largest city and a major commercial hub, Aleppo was for a long time free of the violence that engulfed much of the rest of the country, but now has been devastated as rebels try to wrest a major strategic prize from the regime of President Bashar Assad.
The bloodshed also is increasingly spreading outside Syria’s borders.
On Wednesday, a shell fired from inside Syria landed on a home in neighbouring Turkey, killing at least three people, including a 6-year-old boy, said Abdulhakim Ayhan, mayor of the Turkish town of Akcakale.