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Dozens die in Aleppo blasts

Dozens of people have been killed in a cluster of explosions in the center of Syria's second city, Aleppo. Meanwhile, a shell was reported to have been fired across the border into Turkey, killing at least three people.

Both state television and opposition activists said at least two bomb explosions occurred on Wednesday near a military officers' club and a hotel in Saadallah al-Jabari Square

Syrian state television reported "three terrorist explosions" and showed scenes of collapsed buildings in the square.

Speaking of "car bombs," the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 40 people were killed and 90 wounded, while official television channel Al-Ikhbariya said 31 people were killed and dozens wounded.

Another blast was also reported close by near Bab al-Jinein on the edge of the Old City.

Casualty numbers cannot be independently verified because of restrictions placed on foreign journalists in Syria.

The central district where the explosions took place is controlled by the government. Aleppo is now split in two, with forces loyal to President Bashar Assad mainly in the west of the city, and rebels in the east.

Growing conflict

Government forces and rebels have been fighting for months for control of Aleppo, which is Syria's biggest city with a population of 1.7 million. Neither side has so far gained the upper hand.

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

The pro-regime daily Al-Watan has reported that extra troops were being sent to the city to support the army.

The Mayor of the Turkish town of Akcakale, Abdulhakim Ayhan, told the state-owned Anadolu Agency that a six-year-old boy was among the dead. The blast sparked protests from the town’s residents, the agency reported.

Opposition activists say more than 30,000 people have so far died in the 18-month old uprising against Assad's regime.

tj,rc/sej (Reuters, dpa, AFP)