At Least 20 Killed in Syria Army Bombing at Aleppo Bakery, Say Opposition Activists

Opposition dismisses Assad amnesty plan as sham; United Nations-Arab League envoy trying to secure cease-fire before weekend holiday.

Syrian government forces killed at least 20 people on Tuesday when they shelled a bakery in a neighborhood under rebel control in the contested northern city of Aleppo, opposition activists said.

The dead included women and children, they said. Video footage, which could not be immediately verified, showed decapitated bodies amid scattered bread loaves.

Majd Nour, an opposition campaigner in Aleppo, said two shells hit the bakery, located in the eastern Hananu neighborhood, in the early afternoon. Free Syrian Army fighters were guarding it at the time, he said.

"The frontline is about two kilometers away from the bakery, at Karm al-Jabal. There has been a lull since the army shelled Hananu overnight," Nour said.

"It was quiet all day and suddenly Assad's forces firedthree shells. The first landed near the bakery and the other twohit it," he added.

Aleppo is Syria's biggest city and commercial hub. Rebelstrying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad launched an offensive to capture it last month and street fighting has takenplace on a daily basis since then.

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday issued a general amnesty, state-run television reported, and the opposition dismissed the decision as a sham.

The amnesty applies to all offenses committed before October 23 except for "terrorist crimes", added the broadcaster. The announcement comes days before the start of the Muslim festival of al-Adha on Friday.

"This is not a real amnesty. He (Assad) releases 100 prisoners and detains 500 others," Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told dpa.

United Nations-Arab League envoy Lakhadr Brahimi is in Syria to try to secure a temporary ceasefire between government forces and the rebels over the holiday.

Syrian government officials have said that Damascus is in favor of the truce proposal, but would not commit itself to halting fire until the West and its Gulf allies stop supporting the rebels.

At least six people were killed in shelling attacks by government troops in the northern city of Aleppo, opposition activists said.

Four others were killed in an attack by government troops on the pro-rebel town of Harsta on the outskirts of Damascus, they added.