Militants Tunnel Under Syria Hotel, Destroy It

No official word yet on casualties in Aleppo attack
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2014 8:03 AM CDT
Militants Tunnel Under Syria Hotel, Destroy It
This April 27, 2014, photo from the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, which has been authenticated, shows smoke rising from a Syrian government forces airstrike in Aleppo, Syria.   (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC)

Islamic militants destroyed an Aleppo hotel used by Syrian government troops today by tunneling underneath the building and planting explosives there, the New York Times reports. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the government soldiers suffered casualties in the attack on the Carlton Citadel, where they had been based for two years, but there are no details yet on how many. The Islamic Front rebel group, which claimed responsibility for the attack, says 50 died, the AP reports. The explosives were linked to remote detonators, and according to the state news agency, other historical sites were also leveled today in the same way.

The Observatory says Islamist forces tunneled from rebel-held areas to the destroyed sites; various parts of Aleppo, Syria's largest city, are held by both sides. One activist says government troops were using the Carlton to launch mortar and sniper attacks. The Islamic Front is an alliance of Islamic groups; many of its fighters broke away from the Western-backed Syrian Free Army last year. Little more than a month ago, a similar tunnel attack was staged in Aleppo, but that hotel was only damaged and government troops were able to continue using it. Today's attack comes a day after rebels began evacuating Homs, marking "a de-facto end of the rebellion" in the city once considered the "capital of the revolution." (More Syria stories.)

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