Blasts hit Syria's presidential palace area as rockets rain on Aleppo: reports


A rebel fighter shoots towards Syrian government forces through a window at a flat in the Salaheddine neighborhood of Aleppo on February 16, 2013. A new UN report says both rebels and government forces are responsible for war crimes during the ongoing conflict.



Two explosions were reported near the Damascus palace of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press, while opposition activists told Reuters rocket attacks launched by the regime in a rebel-controlled area of Aleppo killed 20 people. 

Syria's state-run SANA news agency said no one was hurt when two mortars exploded near the Tishreen palace, a facility AP said is frequently used by Assad to house foreign visitors. The government blamed the attack on "terrorists," a term widely seen as a reference to rebel fighters trying to oust Assad from power.

The 23-month-old conflict in Syria has taken an estimated 70,000 lives and sparked a humanitarian crisis. International efforts to end the violence have not been successful. 

Also Tuesday, rebel and regime forces remain locked in an increasingly deadly battle for control of Syria's second largest city of Aleppo. Anti-government activists told Reuters that Syrian army Scud-style rockets killed 20 people, while AP cited activists as saying 19 had died.

"The bodies are being dug up gradually," Aleppo resident Mohammad Nour told Reuters by phone. "Some, including children, have died in hospitals," he said, adding that people on the ground say some 25 remain trapped under the wreckage.

Regime and rebel forces have been fighting for control of the strategically-located city for the past seven months, according to AP