Syrian rebels blow up tunnel in Aleppo, killing at least 20 government fighters
In this Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center, AMC and released Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians inspect the rubble of damaged buildings following a Syrian government airstrike in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, May 31, 2014 1:22PM EDT
BEIRUT -- Syrian rebels blew up a tunnel packed with explosives in the northern city of Aleppo on Friday, killing at least 20 pro-government fighters, activists and rebels said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group said the blast took place near the Zahrawi market not far from the citadel in Old Aleppo. It said clashes followed the explosion.
A powerful rebel alliance called the Islamic Front claimed responsibility for the blast. It said in a tweet that it killed at least 40 government gunmen.
The Islamic Front also tweeted a video of the explosion. It shows a massive blast erupting from a skyline of rooftops and satellite dishes, throwing chunks of brick and a huge cloud of dust into the air.
The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other Associated Press reporting.
In early May, rebels also used bomb-packed tunnels to level a historic hotel in the Old City of Aleppo that was being used as an army base.
Such explosions have provided a reminder that the rebels, despite setbacks in other parts of the country, remain a potent force.
Now in its fourth year, Syria's conflict has killed more than 160,000 people and caused a humanitarian crisis. The United Nations has said that some 9.3 million people -- more than 6.5 million displaced by the fighting -- are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance inside Syria.
Late Friday, a UN spokeswoman said that a 15-truck convoy delivered food aid to Syrian Arab Red Crescent warehouses for 30,000 people in rebel-held areas in western parts of the Aleppo governorate. Stephane Dujarric said the convoy also carried in medicine for 15,000 people, and household items for another 10,000.
"This aid is part of the plan approved last week by the governor of Aleppo to help some half a million people both in opposition and government-held areas," Dujarric said.
Humanitarian aid has not been able to reach many areas where people are in need, despite a UN Security Council resolution in February demanding unfettered access.
Now, Australia, Luxembourg, and Jordan are planning to circulate a new UN Security Council resolution that diplomats say would authorize the delivery of humanitarian aid into Syria through four border crossings without approval from President Bashar Assad's government.
Currently, all UN aid must go through Damascus -- a practice which UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has repeatedly criticized.