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Airstrike on Syrian bakery kills dozens

An airstrike on a crowded bakery in the Syrian province of Hama has left several dozen people dead. According to some estimates made by activists in Hama, this could be the deadliest attack of the Syrian conflict.

War planes from the Syrian government are thought to have carried out Sunday's attack in the town of Halfaya, which came as hundreds of people were standing in line to get bread from the bakery.

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Deadly airstrike on Syrian bakery

"We hadn't received flour in around three days so everyone was going to the bakery today, and lots of them were women and children," activist Samer al-Hamawi told the Reuters news agency in an interview via Skype.

The Local Coordination Committees, a network of local activists, said "regime forces bombarded a bakery and committed a massacre that killed dozers of people, including women and children, and wounded many others."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was still gathering information about the attack but that the death toll was likely above 50 people.

Human rights groups have accused the Syrian government of targeting bakeries in airstrikes in the past.

Brahimi's next attempt

The attack comes as the international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Syria to meet with President Bashar Assad. It's been two months since the pair last held talks in Damascus.

Brahimi is due to meet with Assad on Monday to discuss the crisis in Syria, which has been going on for 21 months and has killed more than 40,000 people, according to activist groups.

The two last met in October in Damascus, when he urged Assad and Syrian rebels to respect a unilateral ceasefire during the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The truce did not last, and fighting continued across the country.

At the time, Brahimi lamented the failure of the truce, but vowed to press on with peace efforts.

Earlier this month, a UN report said the fighting in Syria was being increasingly fought along sectarian lines. The chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro, described the 10-page report as painting "an extremely bleak picture of the devastating conflict and humanitarian law violations on both sides."

"We think this is a war where no military victory is possible," said Pinheiro at the time.

mz/hc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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