Skip to main content

Aleppo University student describes chaos, carnage after blasts

By Ashley Fantz and Salma Abdelaziz, CNN
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 2129 GMT (0529 HKT)
In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war: In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war:
HIDE CAPTION
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
151
152
153
154
155
156
157
158
159
160
161
162
163
164
165
166
167
168
169
170
171
172
173
174
175
176
177
178
179
180
181
182
183
184
185
186
187
188
189
190
191
192
193
194
195
196
197
198
199
200
201
202
203
204
205
206
207
208
209
210
211
212
213
214
215
216
217
218
219
220
221
222
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Aleppo University dental student describes horrific day trying to help the injured after blasts
  • Students and activists believe Bashar al-Assad's regime targeted campus
  • Violence had largely escaped the school, which was known for anti-government protests
  • Two blasts at Aleppo University killed at least 87 Tuesday, opposition says

(CNN) -- A Syrian college student who tried to help another after two bombs exploded at their university experienced an unthinkably gruesome moment.

Simon, an Aleppo University dental student, ran to help a young woman he saw walking zombie-like and clearly injured. He shouted to her and reached out.

"I came to hold her hand ... to help her ..." Simon said. "It came off of her. I was holding her dismembered hand in mine."

Death came to Aleppo University, a place that has somehow avoided much of the carnage of the Syrian war. A video purportedly showing the blasts was posted on YouTube.

Homes, people bombed in Syria
Syrian cluster bomb kills children
Syrian city caught in crossfire

At least 87 people were killed and dozens were wounded after twin blasts shook the campus on Tuesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based group that is speaking for rebels fighting to oust the country's president.

The death toll is expected to rise, but the observatory says the majority of the dead are students and civilians who've had to flee their homes because of the war and have been living in the university dorms.

"I was on campus when I heard a plane over head from a distance," Simon recalled to CNN.

"Suddenly a loud explosion erupted just 50 meters away at the gates of the College of Architecture," he said. "Since many roads in Aleppo are blocked, this is one of the few roadways that is open for those traveling though Aleppo."

At least 10 cars were blown to nothing, killing the people inside, he said.

Minutes later a second blast exploded a few meters away.

"But this time, thank God, it was mainly material damage, not casualties," he said.

He ran to help the injured and began loading Suzuki trucks with the wounded and the dead. It was chaos. He was following his instincts in that moment.

Each vehicle sped off with about 10 bodies.

"I counted," he said. "At least 50 bodies."

When he got to the hospital, he saw an awful scene. The hospital was full of so many who appeared critically wounded.

By the time CNN spoke with him, Simon was trying to process what he'd experienced.

Students on campus believe the government specifically targeted the school.

"Aleppo University is known as the university of the revolution," Simon said. "We staged a peaceful protest last week, and this is why were targeted. Our pro-government professors would always threaten us and say 'we swear we will shell this university.'"

Simon told CNN that 15 minutes after the explosions, Al Duniya TV, a pro-government station, was on the scene.

"We were wondering how they got there so fast," he said.

He said that when the bombs went off, the university gates were closed, and campus security would not open them.

"Students were trying to climb the fences to get out, but security pushed them back," he said.

The students then turned on the Duniya TV crew and began beating them.

He said the crew was reporting that there had been a ground explosion, but he and others were sure that it was aerial shelling, suggesting that the government targeted the campus.

"They were lying in front of our eyes!" Simon said.

Then, men known as Shabiha appeared, he said.

The Shabiha is a group of typically hulking men who are regarded as the shadowy arm of the government and are infamous for their strong-arm tactics.

The men began shouting speeches praising President Bashar al-Assad.

"Just 15 guys chanting for Assad," Simon said.

While parents were likely learning whether their kids were dead or alive, the international community did what it has done virtually since the outbreak of violence in Syria -- issue condemnations of the bloodshed.

"The United States is appalled by the Syrian regime's deadly attack yesterday near the University of Aleppo, which reportedly killed more than 80 people and injured more than 150 people," said U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland in a written statement issued Wednesday.

The United States understood through eyewitness accounts that "regime planes launched aerial strikes in the vicinity of university facilities," it continued.

"We condemn any attack on unarmed civilians and continue to emphasize that those responsible for unlawful killings and other violations of international law will be identified and held accountable."

The United Nations posted a response on its website on Wednesday.

"Deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian targets constitutes a war crime. Such heinous attacks are unacceptable and must stop immediately," a spokesman for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said.

More than 60,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria, and hundreds of thousands more have been displaced since the uprising against al-Assad began in March 2011, according to the United Nations.

On Thursday, at least 123 people across the country died, according to local committees recording such information.

Anti-government activist Abu Rami told CNN that 13 families were killed in Homs. The alleged massacre occurred in the farming village of Husweyeh with a population of about 1,500. Rami said the families killed were Sunnis, suggesting that the killers were motivated by sect differences. Sunnis, Christians and Alawites in the village were spared, he said.

Rami feels that the lack of military action by the international community has given al-Assad "the green light...to do whatever to end" the uprising against him.

Thousands of "Syrian souls" will pay for that, he said.

Back at Aleppo University, Simon tells CNN that the bombings have changed him and other young people who might have demonstrated to bring change.

Now, it's different. They have lost so much. So now they are going to fight fearlessly with everything.

Classes are out for two days, he said.

"I wish we didn't have to wait two more days," he said. "I want to go back to school now."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
Syria has submitted a revised proposal "that aims to complete the removal of all chemicals" from the country before the end of April.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 1032 GMT (1832 HKT)
CNN's Arwa Damon reports on ISIS defector who says destroying ISIS as critical as defeating regime.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0353 GMT (1153 HKT)
The U.S. wants a United Nations resolution that will, among other things, bring humanitarian aid for refugees in Syria.
February 17, 2014 -- Updated 1259 GMT (2059 HKT)
When the radical Islamist militia ISIS arrived in the Syrian town of Addana a year ago, many welcomed them. What followed changed their minds.
February 17, 2014 -- Updated 1449 GMT (2249 HKT)
CNN obtained video clips from Syrian activists documenting the atrocities committed by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 2017 GMT (0417 HKT)
On Crossfire, Danielle Pletka discusses what the U.S. needs to do to resolve the Syria crisis.
February 6, 2014 -- Updated 0101 GMT (0901 HKT)
Her almond-shaped brown eyes shine through her sunken face as a doctor lifts her sweater to reveal a tiny rib cage pushing against her skin.
February 4, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan is home to around 100,000 Syrian refugees. CNN spent several days meeting the residents of the camp.
January 22, 2014 -- Updated 1959 GMT (0359 HKT)
Renowned war crimes prosecutors and forensic experts have found "direct evidence" of "torture and killing" by the Assad regime.
Traumatized children who have witnessed the horrors of war are being helped to read -- and rebuild a normal life. CNN's Becky Anderson reports.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 1207 GMT (2007 HKT)
A battle zone tour organized by the Syrian government for CNN and several other media outlets Wednesday was more than bizarre.
January 22, 2014 -- Updated 1735 GMT (0135 HKT)
CNN's Atika Shubert meets with the family of a little girl who was wounded in Syria, now living in a refugee camp.
January 27, 2014 -- Updated 1456 GMT (2256 HKT)
110 year old, Jabari Alawali walked for over 10 hours to reach Jordan from Syria.
ADVERTISEMENT