A fundamentalist jihadist group has claimed responsibility for a succession of deadly assaults which hit the battleground Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday, according to US monitoring group SITE Intelligence.
The Islamist militant group, Al-Nusra Front, posted on jihadist internet sites on Thursday that it hit four crucial targets used by regime forces. The group named "a military officers' club, the municipal palace, the Al-Amir Hotel and another un-named hotel as its targets," SITE quoted the group as saying.
The faction said it carried out "the strikes in two stages, beginning with a suicide bomber detonating a car."
"Allah graced the mujahedeen of the Al-Nusra Front in the Aleppo to carry out an invasion of 'blowing up dens' and that blessed invasion included several simultaneous attacks targeting the [army's] security zone," the front said, quoted by SITE.
"These operations were met with joy from Muslims, especially the operation blowing up the municipal palace where people started invoking Allah," it continued.
The organization posted photos and details of the buildings targeted and the militants who participated in the assault.
Al-Nusra said the buildings hit were "command centers or barracks for the army and the pro-regime shabiha militia."
Car bombs ripped through Aleppo on Wednesday, leaving at least 48 people dead and almost 100 wounded, reported the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The group said "most of [those killed] were regime troops." A government official said the death toll from the blasts stood at 37.
Two bombs were detonated in quick succession near a military officers' club in Saadallah al-Jabiri Square which ripped off the buildings facade and demolished a nearby two storey cafe, reported the AFP news agency.
Minutes later, a third bomb went off at the entrance to the Old City in Bab Jnein, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The owner of a coffee shop near where the blast occurred, said "most of the people rescued from under the rubble of the hotel were soldiers."
The central district of Aleppo, where the explosions took place, is controlled by the government. Aleppo is now split in two, with forces loyal to President Bashar Assad occupying the west of the city, with the rebels inhabiting the east.
With just over 1.7 million inhabitants, Aleppo has become a focus of the conflict since mid-July, when government troops declared the "mother of all battles" to rid the city of rebel forces.
Opposition activists say more than 30,000 people have so far died in the 18-month old uprising against Assad's regime.
jlw/jr (dpa, Reuters, AFP)