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Dozens of people reported killed in airstrike on rebel-held Syria town

Dozens of people are reported to have been killed in airstrikes in a town in northern Syria. The town is in rebel hands.

The London-based opposition activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Thursday that 27 people had been killed and many others wounded after the air force launched the strikes on a vegetable market in the town of Atareb in Aleppo province.

A Syria-based activist group, the Local Coordination Committees put the death toll at 24. The figures could not immediately be reconciled or independently verified.

The reported strike on Atareb, located 30 kilometers (20 miles) west of the city of Aleppo, comes amid an ongoing aerial offensive on rebel-held towns across the province launched by the government back in December.

Second presidential candidate

Also on Thursday, another Syrian lawmaker became the second candidate to announce that he planned to run in the June presidential election. Hassan bin Abdullah al-Nouri is a 54-year-old former minister of administrative and parliamentary affairs. This came a day after independent lawmaker Maher al-Hajjar announced his candidacy.

The incumbent, President Bashar al-Assad has also suggested that he plans to run for a third seven-year term in office, but he has not yet officially announced his candidacy.

Syria's conflict began with mainly peaceful protests against Assad's rule back in March 2011. The fighting broke out after opposition supporters took up arms in response to a violence government crackdown.

Since then, more than 150,000 people have been killed and millions of others forced to flee their homes, according to activist groups.

pfd/rc (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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