Transcript for Massive Blast By Syrian Rebels Levels Assad Stronghold in Aleppo
From him. A massive blast in the battle for Syria today rebel forces fighting. Bosh or all of -- troops and blowing up a military stronghold while abandoning a city that stood. As a symbol to their uprising. Right now the international hot -- Syria. Hello everyone I'm Michelle Franzen in New York in the divided city of a -- bow shock wave today. Rebel forces tunneling into the Carlton Hotel planting explosives and blasting away the building and the city's ancient citadel. By remote detonators the entire neighborhood which -- sides' forces used as a military base. Completely leveled. The largest rebel group claiming responsibility for the attack the number of casualties ranging from fourteen soldiers to as many as fifty. And in the western city of Homs rebel fighters abandoning the -- the city was once the symbol of resistance against president aside. The BBC's Paul Wood has reported from -- since the conflict began he sent this report from neighboring Beirut Lebanon. The uprising in homes disapprove our. Smoke hangs over the old city signifying defeat the rebels had set fire to the buildings before they left them for the last time. The rebel fighters -- -- demoralized and -- -- -- two years of siege. Offices in president Assad's army called it surrender -- off. -- under the well -- potent -- None of the international organizations succeeded in putting enough pressure on the regime to open a humanitarian corridor or to supply -- -- -- -- -- the food and medicine. We -- lucky to preserve who is still alive inside. This is not surrender. Each -- it took a -- -- and a rifle. -- leave for the countryside ready to continue the armed struggle. Alongside the bravado there is bitterness. Rebels say they feel betrayed. -- the international community by their own political leadership in Turkey. By other rebels did not come to their -- The opposition group homes to capital of the revolution. As we sort of in the siege of another -- of -- Hamas government tried to crush resistance in homes from the stops. This -- is coast and now we're hearing headlines every few seconds. -- well you can save here a little bit of Kalashnikov -- it's a pretty futile gesture. Where they have finished the -- in the old city. It is a symbolic and strategic victory for president of the senate. The Syrian leader is trying to gain control of all the territory from Damascus to -- -- he is a step closer to that now. Getting into elections next month president sounds -- stronger than have. In places the rebels are making gains in -- an -- in the north for instance this is not a simple picture. The president -- is winning more than he is losing. Perhaps the real significance of homes lies in what it tells you about the rebels -- all. For some three years of blood and sacrifice with little to show for it is enough. The ravaged landscape of Holmes stark images from BBC Arabic TV today. Both sides -- -- But local cease fire has like -- -- homes must -- far from the negotiated settlement that would end this war. Who would BBC news they -- ABC's Alex Mark -- also in Beirut Lebanon and joins us now for the latest. Alex the scenes out of homes shocking the devastation the entire city leveled. Rebel fighters of course burning down parts of the city before they go it was where the civil war started the symbol of the uprising. How big of a blow is it to the rebel fighters. Well the city of -- is really shell of its former self it is. Seriously significant. -- to the rebels. Hallway just mentioned and peace this is a city that has been known. As the capital the revolution it's where we saw their earliest protest I want this war started more than three years ago where received some of the worst bloodshed some of the worst fighting. The regime has controlled most of this city -- quite some time now. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- People on the brink of starvation utilitarian little or no -- is suffering from constant bombardment. From the regime forces so. If they were really under huge amount -- you accept this truce. Which stated which they started -- carried out yesterday evacuation has continued today. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- heavier weapons but. -- remarkable scene. A Democrat -- standing next to receive fighters very peacefully. All this is has really gone -- about a package so far but it is hugely symbolic today we saw. If black Syria being raised. All homes. This is city third biggest city -- is now essentially fully under regime control it is the -- seeking -- -- the rebels. And Alex does this symbolic city and the leveling of it. And the abandonment of it does -- turn the tide completely in favor of Bashar Al Assad right before planned elections in June. Not completely -- -- -- symbolic and a strategic victory. You know this as I mentioned this is. The third biggest -- -- -- controls it is is very important but make no mistake this is eight incredibly fractured country. This hour and the capital Damascus a part of the western coast are told writers -- but -- there are huge swaps. Landed in the north the north east. I'm better completely control whether the rebels this country is extremely divided as he -- those quote unquote elections as you say it our president -- certainly had the momentum but by no means has he won this war -- Let's talk a little bit about that massive explosion we saw on a -- -- Howell did fire. Rebel fighters get into that area to destroy this historical building. Well this is committed to building was in the old part of -- which is you know it's a world heritage site -- the Carlton Hotel the building itself on hundreds of your golden. And frankly was. Was beautiful. The rebels had dug tunnels underneath. That part of the city introduced Syrian state media said they had dug under archaeological sites and lined the area under the hotel we explosives -- -- detonated remotely that's our understanding where terrorists -- -- In that hotel a military stronghold do we know how many government forces. Might have been killed. Not precisely it was used as a base of operations for forces loyal to president Bashar also but. -- Syrian government has not put out precise figures just yet we assume the -- Cole are to be in the dozens. Can you explain the old Islamic front the group behind the bombing are they one or more of the moderate factions here. Or do they have ties to al-Qaeda. And there are there -- strongest fighting route if you take him as a collective this is a group. Consumers as they're known and an -- -- -- that ended getter last fall there are all islamists armed and they certainly are not moderate. In the wake of the United States and Europe would like to see these horses he moderate but it is by no means -- -- street. As the al-Qaeda. Franchises if you wilders you well I didn't groups one as soon as -- the Islamic state of Syria and Iraq I the other is the youngest -- This collection known as the as the Islamic front community. Tied -- in -- -- fight alongside. I'm al-Qaeda groups in different parts of the country they don't include in the al-Qaeda hurts themselves but they certainly -- strong ties. -- stronger -- the west. And what does this say about the rebel fighters and there. Sort of cohesiveness with each other are there just too many factions in this area of course the evacuation from Holmes was. Part of a short truce right. Right so you're seeing in action today an independent in the second and third biggest cities in Syria. A bed and and the fact that they're completely different sorts of action just speaks to how fractured this country is that is back -- have this peaceful ideal. His look back operation taking place and also just a relatively short distance away. I don't know how this -- attacked it. How how to fight not divided really but how fractured and widespread the rebel groups are there isn't that much coordination -- between them. I'm and and the fact that you know you can have something to eighty's wheel base. In homestead has very little effect on what's happening -- -- -- -- this is this is a fight that it is extremely -- -- cities and towns cities and regional level you're not seeing. You know brought these. Across the country this is why and -- past. Other truces and cease fires haven't been able to work very well because one group agree to something -- another group will -- be disagrees. And everything falls. -- and the Syrian opposition is meeting with secretary of state John Kerry later today asking for more anti aircraft missiles. Does the US willing to provide the rebels with more arms and support. We don't have American anti aircraft missile just yet that you -- Russian and Chinese understand. Just recently admitted the newest trend we've seen her anti -- missiles that are American their -- goes. Other wire guided quite frankly either they're not quite antiques but there are several decades -- and then there's certainly not the most advanced technology. And so whether. The rebels and opposition with life gets his -- Americans -- -- -- giving them anti aircraft weapons that -- down. Syrian fighter yes. That are bombing -- -- street. Helicopters that are dropping -- -- all barrel arms barrels I hear he reportedly -- race. On these cities and and so we we don't know frankly whether these missiles have been provided by the United States that I -- -- confirmed what we. -- -- is that US -- -- to some sort of tacit acknowledgment or tacit approval. For -- more moderate -- yet he's anti tank missiles. As part of so called pilot program if you will see if it can be trusted see it can be used in the right way it -- the major beer in Washington is that if it's serious weapons are provided. -- The mind like weapons have been provided we'd be over -- -- But if there were more significant weaponry given the rebels the -- here that they could and up in the wrong and Olivia is al-Qaeda groups and and that's something Washington wants pictured -- We will wait to hear how those talks go today BC's Alex mark court in Beirut thank you for joining us. You can keep up with the story in real time by downloading the ABC news -- happened starring this story for exclusive updates on the go. You've been watching international hot spot for now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.
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