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Syria tensions spill over border to Lebanon
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U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said Syrian government fighter planes fired rockets that struck the main emergency hospital in an opposition-controlled area of Aleppo a day earlier, wounding two civilians and causing significant damage. Human Rights Watch said its members visited the damaged hospital.
The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group said there was also fighting near a border crossing with Turkey that the rebels had captured last month. A local official in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli said clashes could be heard coming from the region on Tuesday but that the situation had calmed by Wednesday morning. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
Activists say more than 20,000 people have been killed since the start of Syria’s revolt, inspired by other Arab Spring uprisings against autocratic regimes in the region. The conflict has slowly morphed into a full blown civil war.
The LCC reported violence in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, northwestern region of Idlib, Daraa to the south and in suburbs of the capital Damascus.
In Damascus, a bomb attached to a fuel truck exploded Wednesday outside a hotel where U.N. observers are staying, wounding at least three people, Syrian state TV reported. Activists also reported clashes in different parts of Syria, including clashes with rebels near the government headquarters and the Iranian embassy both in Damascus.
Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad toured the area of the blast and said none of the U.N. staff was hurt. The explosion occurred as U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos was in the Syrian capital but her team is believed to be staying at a different hotel.
The blast was the latest in a series of explosions that have hit Damascus in the past months as clashes between government troops and rebels reached the capital, which had been relatively quiet since the uprising against Assad erupted in March last year.
Wednesday’s explosion went off about 300 meters (yards) from the military command. According to an Associated Press reporter at the scene, the blast was inside the parking lot of a military compound. The lot is near the Dama Rose Hotel, popular with the U.N. observers in Syria and where many of the mission staff are staying.
It was not immediately clear who was behind Wednesday’s explosion or what was the intended target. There have been several high-profile bombings in the Syrian capital. On July 18, an explosion in a key government headquarters in Damascus killed four top generals, including Assad’s brother-in-law. And in March, a double suicide bombing in Damascus killed 27 people.
“Those who carry out such terrorist attacks are destroying their country in order to get some pounds,” shouted a Damascus resident, Ali Mohammed Ismail, 48, who said he happened to be in the area when the explosion went off.
• AP writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Albert Aji in Damascus and Guido Goulart in Dili, East Timor contributed to this report.
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