Two blasts in Aleppo killed 83 people and wounded dozens on the first day of student exams. The explosions tore through one of Syria’s largest universities.
Bombings, shellings, and shootings are responsible for disrupting daily life across Syria since early 2011 when the government cracked down on peaceful demonstrations for democratic reform.
Both Syria’s government and the rebels blamed each other for Tuesday’s blasts at the University of Aleppo, which is located in a government-held area of Syria’s largest city, according to Reuters.
More than 50 countries have called on the United Nations Security Council to refer the crisis in the Middle Eastern nation to the International Criminal Court, which is charged with prosecuting people for genocide and war crimes. Russia blocked the initiative, however, calling it “ill-timed and counterproductive.”
Some activists in the city stated that a government attack was the cause of the deadly blasts in Aleppo, but state television blamed “terrorists” for firing two rockets at the school. The government often uses the term terrorists to describe rebel fighters. A rebel fighter in the area said that the blasts appear to be from “ground-to-ground” missiles.
Yahoo! News notes that human rights organization the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights cited doctors and students when it claimed that 83 people were killed and dozens were wounded in the blasts. It was not able to identify their source.
Aleppo has been the focus of the struggle between rebel forces and the government of President Bashar al-Assad as they fight for dominance over Syria’s largest city. The UN and other organizations have attempted to form a peace treaty between the two sides, but neither is willing to negotiate with the other.
Both sides have confirmed that the majority of those killed by the blasts in Aleppo were students taking their mid-year exams, as well as civilians who sought refuge in the university’s dorms after they fled from violence elsewhere.
Videos and photos taken of the carnage showed dead bodies lying in the street, as well as more than a dozen flaming cars and a dormitory’s windows blown out. Some of the dorm’s walls were also missing, leaving beds and other furniture exposed.
Activists claimed that a government warplane carried out airstrikes on the university. They circulated a video supporting the claim, which showed a small trail of smoke left by a jet. The activists were not able to explain why the government would attack an area that its forces already control.