Govt air strike on Syria bakery kills 'more than 60'
Moscow: A deadly air strike by Syrian government on a bakery in Halfaya of Syria’s Hama on Monday killed more than 60, even as international envoy Lakhdar Barhimi is in the country to negotiate the solutions to the ongoing civil war.
"Dozens of people were killed in an air strike on Halfaya," Lebanon's Naharnet said citing the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
But if the activists’ account is to be believed, over 90 people have been killed, said the BBC.
"In Halfaya, regime forces bombarded a bakery and committed a massacre that killed dozens of people, including women and children, and wounded many others," said Lebanon's Naharnet said citing the local coordination committees.
The attack coincided with the start of a two-day visit by Lakhdar Barhimi, who represents the UN and the Arab League, to meet with top Syrian officials.
Brahimi has made little apparent progress toward ending Syria's crisis since assuming his post in September, mostly because the sides appear more interested in fighting it out than in sitting down for talks.
Brahimi did not speak publicly upon arriving in Damascus for a two-day mission, and it was unclear whether he would present new ideas to end the war. His trip appeared troubled from the start.
The attack appeared to be the government response to a newly announced rebel offensive seeking to drive the Syrian army from a constellation of towns and village north of the central city of Hama. Halfaya was the first of the area's towns to be "liberated" by rebel fighters, and activists saw Sunday's attack as payback.
"Halfaya was the first and biggest victory in the Hama countryside," said Hama activist Mousab Alhamadee via Skype. "That's why the regime is punishing them in this way."
The total death toll remained unclear, but the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 60 people were killed. That number is expected to rise, it said, because some 50 of those wounded in the strike are in critical condition.
Instead of flying directly to Syria as he had on previous visits, Brahimi landed in Beirut and traveled to the Syrian capital by land because of fighting near the Damascus airport, Lebanese officials said.
The conflict between Syrian government troops and opposition forces has claimed the lives of over 44,000 people since March 2011, according to UN figures.