The blasts were the first significant violence in the northern city, Syria's largest. Along with the capital Damascus, Aleppo is Syria's economic center, home to the business community and prosperous merchant classes whose continued backing for Assad has been crucial in propping up his regime. The city has seen only occasional protests.
State TV blamed "terrorists" in the blasts, touting the regime line that armed groups looking to destabilize Syria are behind the uprising. Anti-Assad activists accused the regime of setting off the blasts to discredit the opposition and to avert protests that had been planned in the city on Friday.
Those attacks are being attributed to terrorists or the opposition forces arrayed against Assad, but Assad's security forces are once again shelling Homs and the death toll there continues climbing.
Everyday life in Syria is a struggle, and people are looking for any way out of the most violent-prone areas, including seeking refuge in neighboring Turkey and Lebanon. Even UN officials are noting that the level of state-sponsored violence against the Syrian people is rising to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity. One official says that it's time to refer matters to the International Criminal Court.
"We believe, and we've said it and we'll keep repeating it, that the case of Syria belongs in the International Criminal Court. This would give a very, very strong message to those running the show," Rupert Colville, spokesman for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, told a news briefing.Russia, which continues backing Assad, is doing so at its own economic peril. If Assad falls, Russia stands to lose billions of dollars since the Syrian people aren't soon to forget that it was Russia, along with China, that thwarted action at the United Nations and that are the main supplier to Assad's regime. Likewise, China may have to reconsider its role in light of the Arab Spring uprisings.
Pillay will address a U.N. General Assembly session on Syria being held in New York on Monday, Colville said. "I believe they are considering a resolution, what it will contain I don't know," he added.
Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge, called on Wednesday for urgent international action to protect civilians in Syria, saying she was appalled by the Syrian government's military onslaught on the city of Homs.
While the UN has stopped issuing updates on the death toll since early January due to the declining security situation, Syrian human rights groups indicate that the rate of deaths is accelerating as Assad's crackdown takes a heavy toll on places like Homs and Hama and the number of defections from the security forces increases. It is quite likely we're talking about 7,000 or more killed since fighting started, with 2,000 since the beginning of the year alone.