Air Strike Reportedly Kills 57 In Rebel-Held Town As U.S. Envoy Visits Damascus

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IDLIB, SYRIA - JANUARY 9: Smoke rises as Russian warplanes conduct air strikes targeting opposition controlled prison at opposition controlled Maret el Numan district of Idlib, Syria on January 9, 2016.  (Photo by Firas Faham/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
IDLIB, SYRIA – JANUARY 9: Smoke rises as Russian warplanes conduct air strikes targeting opposition controlled prison at opposition controlled Maret el Numan district of Idlib, Syria on January 9, 2016.
(Photo by Firas Faham/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

An air strike reportedly killed dozens of people in a rebel-held town in Syria on Saturday as a U.N. envoy visited Damascus to advance preparations for peace talks planned this month despite opposition misgivings.

Agreement was also reached for aid to be delivered on Monday to an opposition-held town besieged by pro-government forces where United Nations says there have been credible reports of people dying of starvation, sources said. Aid will be sent simultaneously to two villages blockaded by rebels.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 57 people were killed in the air strike, which hit a court house and prison in the town of Maarat al-Numan in Idlib province. It identified the jets as Russian, and said the court house was operated by the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

Russia has been staging air strikes in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad since September. The building was struck with four missiles. The dead included 23 members of the Nusra Front, three women and at least one child, the Observatory said. Syrian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reuters.

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