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Syria troops bomb Salqin, near Turkish border, killing at least 21 people including 5 kids, activists say

DAMASCUS, Syria Activists say Syrian troops have bombed a northern town near the Turkish border, killing at least 21 people.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the victims of Monday's bombardment of the town of Salqin included five children. The town is four miles from the border with Turkey.

The Observatory says the death toll is expected to rise because many people were critically wounded. The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, put the death toll at 30.

Footage posted online by activists shows several mutilated bodies in a pickup truck as a man shouts that his son was killed. The video's authenticity could not be independently verified.

Salqin is in the northwestern province of Idlib that has seen intense clashes between troops and rebels in recent months.


Meanwhile, the Damascus representative of the new U.N. envoy to Syria said Monday that the large number of deeply divided rebel groups is one of the main obstacles to a U.N. mission's efforts to broker an end to Syria's 18-month crisis.

Mokhtar Lamani, who represents special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in the Syrian capital, told The Associated Press in an interview that a solution to the country's crisis remains very difficult because of the "high level of mistrust between all parties." Most opposition groups say they will accept nothing less than President Bashar Assad's departure from power, while the regime says its opponents are working as part of a foreign conspiracy.

Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat who previously served as a U.N. envoy to Afghanistan and Iraq, waded into Syria's complicated diplomatic landscape last month when he replaced Kofi Annan, the former U.N. chief whose peace plan for Syria failed to end the violence that activists say has so far killed more than 30,000 people.

Lamani said Brahimi, who visited Damascus last month, will pay a second visit to Syria soon and will tour the country. Asked whether he still sees hope of a political solution in Syria despite all the bloodshed, Lamani said: "I think maybe the time will be too long, but I hope (so) ... and this is what I am here for because I hope that in the end there would be some light."

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