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Syrian airstrike kills dozens ahead of Brahimi visit

Dozens of people have been killed in an air strike in Syria's central Hama province. The attack comes as international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is on his way to Syria to meet with President Bashar Assad.

An air strike near a bakery in the rebel-held town of Halfaya on Sunday killed dozens of people, according to activists.

"We cannot get an exact figure yet because we are still confused about which are dead and which are wounded," one activist said.

The attack comes as the international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is on his way to 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.

"I have said and it bears repeating again and again that the Syrian crisis is very, very dangerous, the situation is bad and getting worse," Brahimi said at a news conference in late October in Moscow, where he met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

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.

jr, hc/bk (Reuters, AFP, dpa)