News / Middle East

Syrian Air Strikes Kill 20

Men search for survivors amid debris of collapsed buildings after what activists said was an air raid by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa province, eastern Syria, August 10, 2013.
Men search for survivors amid debris of collapsed buildings after what activists said was an air raid by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa province, eastern Syria, August 10, 2013.
VOA News
A Syrian watchdog group says government air strikes overnight in western Syria have killed at least 20 people.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday half of the those killed in the strikes in Salma were rebel fighters.

Syria's conflict has taken on an increasingly sectarian tone in the last year, pitting predominantly Sunni Muslim rebels against a government dominated by the Alawite minority sect of President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, U.S. and Russian officials say they agree on the need to stage Syrian peace talks as soon as possible. The issue is one of the few areas of agreement between the two countries, which have strained relations.

​Moscow backs the Assad government, while Washington is among Western countries supporting the opposition. However, both countries, along with the United Nations, have been trying to find enough common ground to arrange a conference on Syria in an attempt to find a political solution and end the civil war.

Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 9, 2013.Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 9, 2013.
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Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 9, 2013.
Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 9, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met Friday in Washington with their Russian counterparts, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Lavrov said the two countries will meet again at the end of the month to prepare for the Syrian talks.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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