TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Syrian army intensifies offensive

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:48 p.m.
 

DAMASCUS — Syrian troops stepped up an offensive against rebels in the north on Wednesday in response to explosions targeting security forces and a university campus that killed more than 100 people in two days.

Powerful suicide car bombs that killed about two dozen people in Idlib marked another escalation in the fight for control of northern Syria, a key battlefield in the country's civil war. The day before, blasts heavily damaged the main university in the commercial hub of Aleppo, killing 87 people and wounding scores of others.

The nearly simultaneous bombings in Idlib bore the trademarks of Islamic militants, the most organized rebel fighters trying to topple President Bashar Assad's government. More than 60,000 people have been killed in the 22-month conflict, according to the United Nations.

Assad's warplanes struck rebel targets in both northern cities, still reeling from the deadly explosions. The Syrian army vowed to crush the armed opposition to “cleanse the homeland of their dirt.”

The army said in a statement that its troops killed and wounded dozens of “terrorist mercenaries” in Aleppo in response to the attacks on the university where students were taking midyear exams. Assad's regime regularly refers to rebels as “terrorists.”

Government troops and rebels have been locked in a deadly stalemate in Aleppo and other areas in the north since last summer. Six months later, the rebels hold large parts of the city. Still, they have been unable to overcome the regime's far superior firepower.

With the two sides deadlocked on the northern front, rebels have increasingly targeted state security facilities and government institutions in other parts of the country, including in the capital, Damascus.

There were conflicting accounts of the rebel assaults on Idlib, southwest of Aleppo.

The state-run SANA news agency said two suicide car bombers attacked a pair of traffic circles, killing 22 people and wounding 30. It said security forces foiled two other suicide bombers planning to target security forces and civilians in the area.

A government official said three cars laden with explosives were detonated on a major highway and a traffic circle.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported three car bombings, but it said the attackers were targeting security vehicles near the local security headquarters and a checkpoint.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read World

  1. Scots reject independence from United Kingdom in historic vote
  2. It’s not a small world after all: Global population estimated to soar
  3. Ukraine’s pleas for lethal aid not heard
  4. Blasts kill dozens in Baghdad area
  5. Aid to Ukraine uncertain as its leader visits U.S.
  6. 21 massacred in Mexico, witnesses say
  7. ‘Piecemeal’ World War III has begun, pope warns
  8. With hours before secession vote, many in Scotland undecided
  9. Russia’s business world rattled by arrest of oil tycoon Yevtushenkov
  10. Obama, generals part ways on ground war in Iraq
  11. Russian gas disruptions ‘test’ Poland
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.