A truck bomb explosion in the central Syrian city of Hama killed more than 30 people Sunday, while United Nations and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi played down comments that a long-delayed peace conference for Syria will convene in Geneva next month.
Arab League chief Nabil el-Araby announced an international conference aimed at ending Syria's civil war would be held on November 23.
But at the same Cairo news conference, Brahimi told reporters there would be no talks without credible opposition representation. He refused to publicly set a date for the conference until he completes a regional tour of Qatar, Turkey, Iran and Syria.
Both officials acknowledged there were still obstacles to holding the conference, as Western and Arab diplomats prepare to meet Syrian opposition leaders on Tuesday to attempt to persuade them to attend.
Opposition leaders have threatened to boycott the proposed peace conference unless Syria's President Bashar al-Assad agrees to step down. President Assad insists he will remain in office until his term ends in 2014, and possibly seek re-election as well.
Meanwhile, Syria's state news agency SANA said a suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with explosives into a government checkpoint on the outskirts of Hama. Footage aired on Syrian television showed rubble, fires, and bodies on the ground.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra carried out the attack. Both SANA and the Observatory said at least 30 people were killed.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory said the death toll is likely to rise, as some of the wounded are in critical condition.