October 3, 2012 / 6:54 AM / 7 years ago

Bombs hit Syrian government Aleppo, many casualties

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Three bombs exploded on a main square in a government controlled central district of Syria’s second city Aleppo on Wednesday and Syrian state television said many people had been killed.

A damaged Syrian Army tank belonging to forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is pictured after clashes with the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo October 2, 2012. REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout

Pro-government Al-Ikhbariya TV said the bombs detonated in Saadallah al-Jabari Square in western Aleppo, Syria’s largest city which is now split in two with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad mainly in the west and rebels in the east.

The channel showed footage of four dead men, including one dust-covered body being pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building and loaded onto the back of a pickup truck.

Many of the several story high buildings on the square had their facades ripped off and a crater stood in the road.

State television said there had been many people killed in what it called “three terrorist explosions”, but did not give a number. Ikhbariya earlier said two car bombs had been used in the attack.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported tens of casualties from the bombs which it said exploded next to an Officers Club.

Fighting only with light weaponry, rebels have resorted to bomb attacks in areas still controlled by Assad. Several large protests in support of the president have been held in Saadallah al-Jabari square.

A pro-Assad Lebanese paper said on Tuesday that Assad was visiting Aleppo to take a first-hand look at the fighting and had ordered 30,000 more troops into the battle. It said Assad would remain in the city.

Opposition activists say 30,000 people have been killed in the 18-month-old anti-Assad uprising, which has grown into a full-scale civil war.

For much of the revolt, Assad has retained a grip on Aleppo with many rich merchants and minority groups there, fearful of instability, remaining neutral while protests spread.

Rebels mounted a new offensive last week to seize the city, and over the weekend fires started by the combat gutted the historic market in the Old City, a world heritage site.

Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Jon Hemming

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