An enormous bomb leveled a luxury hotel in Aleppo, Syria that government soldiers were using as a base on Thursday, reportedly causing many casualties, though exact numbers are unknown.
The blast demolished the Carlton Hotel, according to the Associated Press. The hotel was located on government-held turf but sat on the dividing line between the area state forces control and territory run by the rebels. A British organization called the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told the AP that at least 14 government soldiers died in the explosion, but Syria’s largest rebel faction, the Islamic Front, claimed responsibility for the blast and said it killed 50 troops.
Rebels allegedly carved out tunnels underneath the hotel, packed them with explosives and detonated the bomb remotely. A shorter video of the blast is below.
This is the second time the Syrian Islamic Front has used bomb-stuffed tunnels to attack the Carlton. They first had success in February when they caused the building to partially collapse, and they’ve used tunnels in assaults on government positions in other regions of the country. Below is the full video of the Aleppo blast.
The blow to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military comes just a day after they had won a major symbolic victory. Rebel forces had evacuated the city of Homs on Wednesday under a case-fire agreement brokered by the United Nations. Homs is just one of several key battlegrounds in the country, but especially significant because it is known as the “capital of the revolution.”
Fighting in Syria’s civil war has killed more than 100,000 people and large swaths of several major cities have been reduced to rubble in the three-year-long battle between government forces and several rebel groups.
Despite the brief truce in Homs, citizens and fighters in Aleppo are experiencing no such calm. Syria’s largest city, like many others, is split between rebel and government troops and has been that way since rebels first attacked there back in 2012.
— habibti (@ha_bibti) May 8, 2014
Assad’s forces and rebel fighters have bombed and launched mortars at each other over the past few months, according to the AP. Rebels have reportedly killed dozens by setting off car bombs in residential districts.
Though the Islamic Front has not been designated a terrorist group by the United States, many Western groups consider it to be an extremist organization. This notion is believed to be why Western nations such as the United States have decided to not support rebel forces.