Syria's crucial northern Aleppo province was struck Wednesday with a spate of blasts that killed at least 34 people, official reports said, as the tension has gotten high on the northern frontier with Turkey after artillery shells, reportedly coming from Syria, slammed the Sanliurfa province in southeastern Turkey and killed five Turks.
Earlier on Wednesday, multiple blasts struck the Sa'ad Allah al- Jabiri square in the heart of the northern city of Aleppo. Conflicting reports have emerged about the number of car bombs that ripped through the area.
Syria's Interior Ministry said the blasts had claimed the lives of 34 people while leaving other 122 civilians and military personnel injured.
It said "armed terrorist groups" launched a series of "bloody suicide terrorist" explosions at a time when people were heading to their works and students to their schools, adding that the blasts came in the aftermath of the "strict and fatal blows" they had received at the hands of army personnel.
The first blast occurred at 7:50 a.m. local time (0450 GMT) at the Sa'ad Allah al-Jabiri square, when two suicide bombers blew off their explosive-laden cars, which had been stuffed with 1,000 kg of explosives, the ministry said.
It said the second blast struck the municipal building at 8:17 a.m. local time (0517 GMT), when another suicide bomber blasted his car.
The two explosions coincided with a mortar attack by armed groups who fired at the area, the ministry said, adding that the third blast occurred at 10:35 a.m. local time (0735 GMT) while the competent authorities were trying to dismantle a booby-trapped car at an area grouping al-Amir hotel, the central bank and the commerce chamber.
"We will follow the killers and we will not waver in rooting out those who tamper with the security of the society," the ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run SANA news agency.
The ministry also said that the three blasts have caused big damages in public and private properties, government buildings, hotels and destroyed 250 cars.
It stressed that investigations are still underway to identify the perpetrators of this "coward act."
Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group, placed the death toll at 40, adding that four car bombs went off in Aleppo.
The fourth car bomb tore through the Chamber of Commerce in the Bab Janin area, said the Observatory.
The Observatory said the political intelligence branch in Aleppo was bombarded by mortar shells, adding that the al-Hal market, where government forces were stationing, was also attacked.
The Observatory also reported that several members of the Syrian political security forces were killed and wounded in a truck bomb blast in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour. The report cannot be verified independently.
The latest chaos comes as result of the pitch battles currently underway in Aleppo between the Syrian troops and the armed rebels, who announced last week the commencement of their "decisive" battle to win control over Aleppo, Syria's largest city and commercial hub.
A day earlier, a well informed source told Xinhua that the Syrian troops received huge reinforcements in Aleppo in order to settle the situation there once and for all. The source said that the city of Aleppo is expected to be cleansed within very few days.
In another dangerous escalation Wednesday, the tension has gotten seriously high on the Syrian northern frontier with Turkey after artillery shells, reportedly coming from Syria, slammed the Sanliurfa province in southeastern Turkey and killed five Turks.
The Turkish artillery has reportedly fired at Syrian targets after the incident, further raising the already-high tension between both countries.
The office of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement in which it condemned the shelling on the Turkish soil, saying that "our armed forces at the borders responded to this atrocious attack with artillery fire on points in Syria that were detected with radar, in line with the rules of engagement."
Furthermore, the statement said that "Turkey, acting in accordance to the rules of engagement and international laws, will never leave such provocations by the Syrian regime against our national security unreturned."
After the border incident, Turkey called for an emergency meeting for the NATO's National Atlantic Council to discuss the latest event.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said that when border incidents occur, the concerned countries should deal with them "wisely and rationally."
Al-Zoubi said Syria is "seriously" investigating the sources of the mortar attack, renewing calls for respecting the national sovereignty of Syria.
"In cases of border incidents, the countries should handle them with wisdom, prudence and responsibility, particularly with the presence of armed terrorist groups that have their own agendas," the minister said.
He pointed out that the Syrian-Turkish borders are sprawling, charging that the borders are being used as smuggling routes for arms and ammunition.
Al-Zoubi also extended Syria's condolences to the families that have lost loved ones after the incident in Turkey.
Turkey has emerged as a sympathizer to the armed rebels groups in Syria, providing them with safe havens and other facilitation. Erdogan has repeatedly called on the Syrian President Bashar al- Assad to step down.
The Turkish government seems to have jumped into conclusions and pointed fingers at the Syrian government at a time some Syrian observers, hosted by news TVs, said that the only beneficiary of the border tension are the armed rebels.
The pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV quoted Wednesday an unnamed Syrian official as saying that the Turkish government has turned the frontier with Syria into a stage for military operations and clashes.
The source said that "Turkey must better control its borders and stop supporting terrorism and entering armed men and weapons into Syria."
The source also warned that "similar acts could inflame sedition between the two countries."