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Syria: Damascus mortar attack kills 15 at university

A mortar attack hit the University of Damascus, killing 15 students.

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Syrians inspect damages at the site of twin blasts in Damascus on May 10, 2012. Two powerful blasts in quick succession rocked the Syrian capital at morning rush hour, killing and wounding dozens of people, state television said, blaming the attacks on 'terrorists.' (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

A mortar attack hit the University of Damascus on Thursday, killing 15 students and wounding 20, according to the Associated Press.

The mortar shells exploded at an outdoor cafeteria near the civil engineering faculty building of the university, located in an affluent Damascus neighborhood, the New York Times reported.

Syrian state TV claimed rebels were responsible for the attack.

Just two days ago, rebels killed at least three people and wounded dozens in another shell attack on Damascus, the AP reported.

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Reuters reported that Al-Ikhbariya showed doctors pumping the chests of at least two young men. Blood was splattered on the floor of an outdoor canteen and a young woman bleeding heavily from her face was shown walking in a hospital.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Loaey Mikdad, a spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army, denied the government's claim that his group had attacked the university.  “This is just inhumane and we would not do it,” Mikdad told the New York Times in a telephone interview.

The Free Syrian Army suggested that President Bashar al-Assad’s agents had shelled the school to turn citizens against rebels fighting in Syria, the New York Times reported.

The university mortar attack occurred as officials denied allegations by the opposition that an Iranian cargo plane carrying weapons to Assad's regime was hit as it landed at Damascus International Airport.

Activists were quoted by Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera TV as saying the plane was hit Wednesday night and caught fire as it landed. State TV denied the report.

According to the UN, at least 70,000 people have been killed in Syria since protests against Assad started two years ago.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/130328/damascus-mortar-attack-kills-12-at-university