Assad reportedly ordered a fresh offensive

Four suicide car bombings rocked Aleppo on Wednesday killing at least 50 people, including several civilians, and injuring scores.

State television beamed gory images of the victims — some wrapped in bloodstained blankets — following the bombings. The serial blasts targeted central Aleppo’s Saadallah al-Jabiri Square, close to a prominent hotel and an army officers’ club. The blasts tore down entire facades of buildings, virtually demolished some, and drove a deep crater on the road. Television pictures showed people pulling out bodies from the rubble.

Shot dead

State TV reported that two suicide bombers, wearing military uniforms, who had appeared on the scene after the attacks were shot dead before they could detonate their explosives.

Wednesday’s strikes took place a day after a section of the Lebanese media reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had ordered a fresh offensive in Aleppo, involving thousands of troops.

Lebanon’s Al-Diyar newspaper said Mr. Assad had been flown by helicopter to Aleppo to personally supervise operations.

Analysts point out that despite the heavy damage and the panic that it has caused, the latest string of bombings is unlikely to shift the scales of fighting in Aleppo, where reports have surfaced about the formation of peoples’ militias to counter foreign extremists who have deeply infiltrated the ranks of the opposition fighters.

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