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Dozens killed as Syria trapped in seesaw battles
A blast rocked a government- controlled district in Syria's Aleppo Friday killing at least 12 people, at a time when three suicide car bombs tore through a busy street in Daraa city and in Damascus, leaving undisclosed number of causalities, media reports said.
The blast in Aleppo was caused by a rocket that slammed al- Muhafaza district, Syria's state media said, adding that the armed "terrorists" groups fired the missile from al-Kallaseh neighborhood.
The state-TV aired footage of the blast site, showing two buildings fully destroyed with mounds of debris and twisted metal filling the street and people franticly wandering around helping to remove the bloody bodies and those injured.
The government-run media gave no death toll, but opposition activists said at least 12 people were killed in the blast, adding the number is likely to rise as many of those injured as in critical condition.
The government accused the armed opposition of being behind the incident, as activists said an airstrike caused the destruction. Pro-opposition groups rarely accuse the rebels or the Nusra Front of staging blasts despite the fact that the latest incident has occurred in a government-ruled area in Aleppo, Syria's largest city that has been locked in ferocious clashes between the warring sides hoping to take full control over it.
In the southern province of Daraa, two suicide car bombers detonated their explosive-laden cars in front of a mosque, killing many civilians, many of whom were worshipers who were leaving the mosque after Friday's traditional prayers, the state TV said.
The cars were detonated before the Hasan Mosque in Daraa, the state TV said, casting accusation on the Nusra Front, an offshoot of al-Qaida.
Another car bomb ripped through a military checkpoint at Najha Bridge in the outskirts of the capital Damascus on Friday, which led to the killing of many army members, the pro-government Sham FM said. The oppositional Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blast claimed the lives of three soldiers.
The intensification of blasts comes as the clashes in the suburbs of Damascus have been on the rise recently. Local media said the military operations continued Friday in the countryside of Damascus with the artillery pounding militants' strongholds in Harasta and the troublesome Daraya and Douma, where the army forces eliminated 25 rebels, Sham FM said.
The showdown continued also in Ziabieh, Muadamieh, and Mliaha and claimed the lives of many armed rebels, reports said.
In the northern province of Hasaka, the armed rebels and Nusra Front were said to have been beefing up around the Ras al-Ain town, which is dominated by Kurds, in a bid to storm it, Sham FM said.
It said the opposition fighters have called on the town's locals to leave the area overnight before they attack it.
Quoting clergymen in Hasaka, the report said that the Christian existence is threatened by the armed militants amid an increase in robbery, killing and kidnapping for ransom.
Meanwhile, activists reported government troops' shelling, airstrikes and other attacks in many hotspots nationwide, placing the death toll of Friday's violence at 141, according to the Local Coordination Committees, activists' network that document the 22- month-old crisis.
As the violence keeps grinding on with both sides blaming each other for the chaotic situation, many countries have recently called on the United Nations to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
However, Syria's Foreign Ministry expressed Friday regret at " some countries' insistence to adopt a wrong approach in terms of seeking to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court."
In letters sent to the UN, the ministry said: "The Syrian government voices regret over those countries' insistence on adopting a wrong approach that rejects to acknowledge the Syrian state's duty in protecting its people from the terrorism imposed on it from the outside."
It added that the move of those countries that are signatories of the letter "stresses once again their practice of hypocrisy and double standards regarding the crisis in Syria and the international human rights laws in general."
"The move in the direction sought by those signatories won't contribute to ending the humanitarian suffering or halting the violations against the international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed by the armed terrorist groups," the ministry asserted.
Rather, the ministry added, these groups would find in this move a form of support for them and for their practices as well as more legitimacy for further killing and destruction.
According to the UN estimates, more than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since the unrest erupted in 2011. Also, the World Food Program (WFP) said that around 2.5 million people in Syria are in need of food relief but only 1.5 million can receive supplies from the agency.
The country is in a dire situation due to a political crisis that has spilled over and affected neighboring countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq with refugees streaming in.
On Friday, a Turkish official said a total of 157,490 Syrian refugees are currently taking shelter in Turkey after fleeing clashes in their country, adding that that 223,986 Syrians had fled to Turkey so far and 66, 496 of them returned to Syria.
[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 18Jan13]
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