90 killed in Syrian violence
At least 90 people were killed in violence across Syria on Friday, including 28 people who were killed in twin suicide bombings which ripped through two security facilities in the hitherto relatively peaceful city of Aleppo, dpa reported.
The bombings, in which another 235 people were wounded according to the Health Ministry, were the first in Aleppo. The city has so far shown support for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad despite sporadic anti-government protests since the uprising started in mid-March.
State media blamed the attack on "terrorist gangs," and showed footage of human flesh among the rubble of the buildings hit. It said the bombings had taken place near a park and that children had also been killed in the attack.
The opposition accused the government of masterminding the bombings to tarnish the rebels' image.
The head of the dissident Free Syrian Army, Colonel Riad al-Asaad, denied his comrades were involved in the attack.
"The Free Syrian Army does not carry out such attacks. It is the regime which perpetrates such criminal acts," he told the Dubai-based broadcaster Al Arabiya.
Friday's attack was the third of its kind in Syria in three months. Two bombings in December and January killed more than 70 people, according to government figures.
The explosions were reported as government forces pressed ahead with an onslaught on restive areas in the central province of Homs and on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.
"Fifty people were killed Friday when more than 100 shells fell on the neighbourhoods of Baba Amr, al-Khaildiyeh and al-Bayyada," Omar Homsi, a Syrian activist in Homs told dpa by satellite phone. Most of those areas had now been totally destroyed, he said.
"Dozens of the regime soldiers are now in the district of Inshaat conducting house-to-house searches and intimidating the people staying in their houses despite heavy shelling of the area on Thursday," said Homsi.
In Inshaat, which activists say is a hub of anti-government protests, government forces arrested several women while searching for their husbands, who had fled the area, Homsi said.
Syrian forces also stormed Madya, on the outskirts of Damascus, killing 12 and arresting more than 25 people, among them two women, Homsi said.
Some 755 people have been killed in the government assault on Homs over the last six days, according to the activist group Local Coordination Committees.
Naji Tayyara, the head of the foreign affairs department at the Opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), said the deaths included 70 children and appealed to humanitarian groups to offer immediate medical help to the province.
Meanwhile, the UN General Assembly would hold a debate on the situation in Syria on Monday, with an address by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, her spokesman said in Geneva.
In Berlin, at a meeting of Syrian opposition activists, Ferhad Ahma - a member of the SNC - demanded that Germany close the Syrian embassy and expel the ambassador.
Germany on Thursday expelled four Syrian diplomats. Earlier in the week it arrested two men on suspicion of spying on exiled Syrian dissidents.
Several European states have recalled their envoys from Syria, while the Gulf states expelled Syrian ambassadors.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese army deployed en mass on Friday near its northern border with Syria over reports that arms were being smuggled to rebels into Homs, a Lebanese army source told dpa.
Since the uprising erupted in Syria last March, an estimated 5,000 Syrians have taken refuge in northern Lebanon.
In Jordan, hundreds demonstrated in the town of Ramtha near the Syrian border on Friday to condemn the crackdown on protesters.
Protesters chanted slogans, accusing al-Assad's government of committing "genocide" against dissidents and blasted Russia, China, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah militias for extending support to the Syrian regime.