Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets across Syria on Friday to protest Russia and its recent vote against a United Nations resolution that would have condemned a brutal crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad.
The "Russia Is Killing Our Children" protest, organized by anti-government opposition groups, follows opposition reports that troops in tanks stormed a suburb of the besieged city of Homs. Syria's third-largest city has become a flashpoint in the nearly yearlong uprising.
The mass anti-government protest comes the same day state-run Syrian TV accused terrorists of two explosions Friday that rocked Aleppo, a city considered one of al-Assad's seats of power.
The attacks targeted two Syrian security force buildings -- a military security branch and a law enforcement headquarters, killing and wounding an unknown number of soldiers and civilians, according to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).
The news report seemed to indicate another crack in al-Assad's base of support, with explosions rocking a city that has escaped much of the violence in the 11-month uprising that has left thousands dead.
While Syrian state TV showed images of burned and mangled bodies and blown out windows in Aleppo, a member of the opposition Free Syrian Students inside the city described hearing two explosions and what sounded like a loud gunfight coming from near a military hospital and a police headquarters.
"After the twin explosion, the sound of gunfire rang through the morning for about 20 minutes," the opposition member said.
To the south of Aleppo, in the besieged city of Homs, government troops in tanks and armored vehicles stormed the neighborhood of Inshaat, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group.
The neighborhood has become a refuge for the opposition fleeing the fighting and shelling in the nearby neighborhood of Bab Amr, the group said.
CNN cannot independently confirm reports of violence or casualties in Syria because the government has severely limited the access of international journalists.
Al-Assad has repeatedly denied attacking civilians, saying Syrian forces are targeting armed gangs and foreign terrorists bent on destabilizing the government.
Nearly all other reports from within the country, however, tell a different story. The opposition in Homs describe explosions from mortars and tank shells launched by Syrian forces every few minutes, people bleeding to death in the streets for lack of medical attention, and snipers picking off civilians running for cover.
Syrian state television Thursday said armed terrorist gangs fired seven shells into Homs in the early morning, adding that there were no reports of damage.
The station then showed video of people it identified as residents saying armed gangs had fired on their homes and schools with shells and rocket-propelled grenades.
Video reportedly from Homs and posted online shows rubble and the remains of buildings as gunfire is heard in the background.
Satellite photos of Homs taken this month compared with photos taken in August 2010 show a changed city -- the recent photographs show swaths of burned-out areas, roofs blown off and streets emptied. The 2010 photos of the same areas show streets packed with vehicles, and crisp lines of buildings, their roofs intact.
Britain's ambassador to Syria painted a picture of a brutal crackdown on civilians in a Foreign Office blog post Thursday. Simon Collis described beatings of peaceful protesters, including the elderly and children. Those chanting for freedom in a mosque in Damascus were also beaten, he said.
"It is too shocking to ignore," Collis wrote, calling for world condemnation of the actions of al-Assad's regime.
A U.N. Security Council Resolution addressing the violence failed to pass over the weekend after Russia and China vetoed it. The 13 other Security Council members, including the United States, voted for the resolution, which was also supported by the European Union and the Arab League.
With the Security Council at an impasse, the United States and other countries have called for the creation of a "Friends of Democratic Syria" group to support a free and democratic Syria, said Victoria Nuland, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman.