Weapons depot blast kills 40 in Homs after rebel rocket attack
A video grab shows a fireball from an explosion at a weapons depot set off by rocket attacks that struck government-held districts in the central Syrian city of Homs. Ugarit News posted the video, which has authenticated based on its contents and Associated Press reports.
Opposition rebels attacked the weapons depot, setting off a potent series of explosions that killed at least 40 people, say opposition members. Among the dead were government soldiers and civilians.
An additional 120 were injured, many of them critically, after the rebels launched rockets into the Wadi Thahab neighbourhood and two other districts inhabited mostly by Alawites, members of President Bashar al-Assad's minority sect, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition monitoring group, said.
The Haqq Brigade, one of the largest rebel groups in Homs, claimed responsibility for the attack on the country's Army Foundation Day. The brigade is part of the Syrian Islamic Front, made up of Islamist rebel groups across the country.
State media made no mention of a weapons depot. Online amateur video showed plumes of white smoke rising above the city's horizon on Thursday followed by a large explosion that sent a ball of flame into the sky. Abu Jabir, an activist who lives in the Waer neighbourhood about six kilometres away, said he heard and felt the explosion.
Friends who live three kilometres from the weapons depot had their windows and doors blown out, he said. The death toll was expected to rise because many people remain missing, the Syrian Observatory group said.