More than 60 people killed by airstrike in Syria as they queue for bread in a rebel stronghold

More than 60 people killed by an airstrike in Syria as they queue for bread at a bakery in a rebel strongholdRebels in Halfaya claim a government warplane targeted the civiliansBritain has condemned the attack and called for urgent end to violence

PUBLISHED:

17:45 GMT, 24 December 2012

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UPDATED:

17:46 GMT, 24 December 2012

More than 60 people are believed to have been killed by an airstrike as they queued to buy bread in a rebel-held town in Syria.

Anti-regime activists claimed a government warplane targeted the bakery in Halfaya yesterday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights today said it has collected the names of 40 men and three women killed and seen photos of the dead bodies of a further 15 unidentified men.

Amateur videos posted online showed many dead and wounded bodies lying in a street.

Airstrike: Civilians and rebels carry bodies of people killed in the attack on the bakery yesterday

Airstrike: Civilians and rebels carry bodies of people killed in the attack on the bakery yesterday

Britain today condemned the attack, and Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said that, if verified, it would be 'the most recent in a long line of human rights violations and abuses' committed by the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Those responsible should be held to account, said Mr Burt, who added the incident made clear 'the urgent need for a political transition and end to the violence'.

Syria's state news service also
blamed the attack on 'an armed terrorist group', accusing rebels
of filming the aftermath 'to frame the Syrian army'.

It has overshadowed the visit to Damascus of international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who today held talks with Assad.

There was little sign of progress in the efforts of the envoy for the United Nations and Arab League to broker an end to the conflict during the two-day visit, which was due to end today.

Following the discussions at the Presidential palace, Mr Brahimi told reporters: 'The situation in Syria is still worrying and we hope that all the parties will go toward the solution that the Syrian people are hoping for and look forward to.'

Aftermath: Blood-stained streets outside the bakery where at least 60 people are believed to have been killed

Aftermath: Blood-stained streets outside the bakery where at least 60 people are believed to have been killed

Syria's state news agency quoted Assad as saying his Government supports 'any effort in the interest of the Syrian people which preserves the homeland's sovereignty and independence.'

In a statement released in London, Mr
Burt said: 'I am appalled by emerging reports of the brutal shelling
and killing of civilians in Halfaya in Hama province yesterday.

'Opposition groups report that over 60 people were killed while queuing for bread with more believed to be buried in the rubble.

'If verified, this would be the most
recent in a long line of human rights violations and abuses committed by
the Syrian regime, which continues to wage a remorseless war against
its own people.

'The attack highlights the urgent
need for a political transition and end to the violence, and for those
responsible for these appalling acts to be held to account.'