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Activists: Syrian airstrike kills 21 in Aleppo

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 28, 2013 at 9:19 a.m.

in-this-citizen-journalism-image-provided-by-aleppo-media-center-amc-which-has-been-authenticated-based-on-its-contents-and-other-ap-reporting-firefighters-hose-down-burning-vehicles-after-a-syrian-aircraft-pummeled-masaken-hanano-an-opposition-neighborhood-in-the-northern-city-of-aleppo-syria-sunday-dec-22-2013-ap-photoaleppo-media-center-amc

In this citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center, AMC, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, firefighters hose down burning vehicles after a Syrian aircraft pummeled masaken hanano, an opposition neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC)

BEIRUT — A Syrian government airstrike hit a crowded vegetable market in a rebel-held neighborhood of the northern city of Aleppo on Saturday, killing at least 21 people, activists said.

For nearly two weeks, President Bashar Assad's warplanes and helicopters have pounded opposition-controlled areas of the divided city. Activists say the aerial assault has killed more than 400 people since it began Dec. 15.

The campaign comes in the run-up to an international peace conference scheduled to start Jan. 22 in Switzerland to try to find a political solution to Syria's civil war. Some observers say the Aleppo assault fits into Assad's apparent strategy of trying to expose the opposition's weakness to strengthen his own hand ahead of the negotiations.

Saturday's airstrike slammed into a marketplace in the Tariq al-Bab neighborhood, the Aleppo Media Center activist group and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said 25 people, including four children, were killed and dozens were wounded in the strike. The Aleppo Media Center published a list of 21 names of people it said were killed in the air raid.

The discrepancy could not be immediate reconciled, but differing death tolls are common in the chaotic aftermath of such attacks.

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