ANTAKYA, Turkey — More than two dozen people were killed and scores injured late Sunday when at least one car bomb exploded in a residential district of the embattled northern Syrian city of Aleppo, according to state television and other broadcast reports in Syria.
State television put the toll at 27 dead and 64 wounded in the attack, which appeared to have taken place in a government-controlled district of the divided city.
The state-controlled media blamed “terrorists,” the usual label for opposition fighters seeking to oust the government of President Bashar Assad.
The governor of Aleppo province, Mohammed Wahid Akkad, was quoted on the pro-government Addounia TV channel as saying that two car bombs may have been involved in the attack. The explosions targeted a pair of nearby hospitals, the governor said.
“They don’t have a message, except destruction,” said the governor, who assailed governments in Turkey and Saudi Arabia for providing support to opposition forces. “They want people to be afraid, to leave Syria. That is their goal, total destruction.... Until when will this terrorism continue?”
The escalating daily violence in Syria has come to resemble the mayhem that raged in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Car bombs, a favorite weapon of insurgents in Iraq, have increasingly been employed in Syria against targets associated with the government.
According to Syrian authorities, Islamic militants from Iraq and elsewhere with car-bombing expertise have slipped into Syria and have joined the fight against the government.
Syrian rebels are known to have made use of many varieties of homemade explosives and car bombs. Scores of civilians have been killed in a string of car bomb attacks that began late last year.
Depending on the size of the blast, shrapnel from car bombs can kill or maim people hundreds of yards away. Experts call car bombs the ultimate terror weapon: The devices are relatively easy to assemble, can cause massive damage and trigger widespread panic among the population.
In many cases, no one claims responsibility for the car bombings. That appeared to be the case in Sunday’s blast in Aleppo’s Malaab Baladi district.
State television reported that the victims included an 18-year-old nurse.
In video aired on Syrian television, one man cried, “I know her — she is a nurse in the hospital!” as victims were carried away from the wreckage. “This is the freedom you want? These were hospitals treating people.”
Syrian television showed footage of twisted wreckage and mangled and charred bodies, apparent victims of the bombing, being transported from the scene in a pickup truck. Outraged rescuers and residents shouted in despair as camera lights illuminated the scene of destruction.
The attack comes after weeks of grueling combat in Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city. The city is divided into rebel- and government-controlled districts, with snipers positioned in many areas.
Rebels and government forces have been fighting for control of the city for more than six weeks. Hundreds have been killed in the violence and many Aleppo neighborhoods have been badly damaged. The government has used artillery and aerial bombardment in an effort to dislodge rebels ensconced in buildings in several neighborhoods. But weeks of fighting have failed to move the front line, which rebel commanders say is about 4.5 miles long.
According to the United Nations, more than 200,000 people have fled Aleppo, once home to more than 2 million people. Normal life has come to a halt across much of the city, regarded as Syria’s commercial hub.
The thud of explosions and the sound of gunfire rattle daily across the sprawling city. Smoke rises from shell impacts and from piles of uncollected trash that have been left to smolder.
Over the weekend, a water main was damaged, cutting off the supply of drinking water to several neighborhoods, according to various reports. The opposition blamed government bombardment. The government blamed rebel sabotage.
Many Aleppo residents remained without running water, one more hardship for a once-prosperous city now dealing with bread lines and fighting in the streets.
Marrouch is a special correspondent.