Day 1,148: Rebels rig massive explosion in Aleppo, killing at least 50 soldiers


Debris lying on the ground following an explosion at luxury hotel turned army base in the historic heart of Aleppo



Today is Day 1,148 of the Syria conflict.

This morning, a giant explosion rocked Aleppo, flattening the early-twentieth-century Carlton Hotel that had been housing Syrian government soldiers. At least 50 of those soldiers were killed, and the Islamic Front has claimed responsibility. It seems their fighters had tunneled beneath the building and rigged explosives to remote detonators. Photos available of the explosion itself from across the rooftops of Aleppo show giant, boiling clouds of smoke, dust, and debris rolling over the surrounding neighborhood. Here's another shot of the destruction:

Syrian government forces sift through the rubble following an explosion at luxury hotel turned army base in the historic heart of Aleppo. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

The New York Times points out that tunneling "has nearly a 900-year pedigree in Aleppo," stretching back to siege tunnels in the Crusades. The Times also reports that the Islamic Front has posted a YouTube video showing images from "what it said was a similar attack this week on a government outpost in Idlib." As for this particular target, the Carlton Hotel, a Turkey-based activist contacted by the paper said that it was not just being used to house soldiers: "government forces had turned the hotel into a military base where snipers and mortar crews could attack much of the city's old quarter."


In other news:

Remember how, yesterday, the rebel evacuation of the Old City in Homs began? Remember how the Syrian tourism minister predicted a "prosperous tourist season"? Remember how no recent photos were avilailable of the area the rebels were evacuating, but just knowing what had happened in the city in the past two years made the statement "prosperous tourist season" seem unusually optimistic?

The photos are in. Judge for yourself. 


(All photos: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)


That last image is of Syrian government forces hoisting the national flag and cheering.

The conflict continues.