BEIRUT (AP) -- A missile barrage slammed into a suburb of Damascus, killing at least 40 people and wounding many others in the latest government attack on the rebel-held area, opposition activists said Friday.
The attack came as an international conference aimed at ending the Syrian conflict was getting underway in Vienna, Austria. With 19 foreign ministers attending, including those from regional powerbrokers Iran and Saudi Arabia, there was cautious hope the meeting would achieve a small breakthrough.
"I am hopeful that we can find a way forward," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters, adding: "It is very difficult."
There were conflicting reports about the attack in Douma. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committess group said government forces fired more than 11 missiles at a market, killing at least 40.
Both organizations and a third Douma-based activist network were reporting dozens more wounded in the mid-morning attack.
The Syrian National Council, the main Western-backed opposition group in exile, blamed Russian airstrikes for the "massacre" in Douma which it said killed 55 civilians. It said it was the second deadly attack in the past 24 hours after Russian airstrikes bombed the main hospital in Douma a day earlier.
The area is a frequent target of deadly government airstrikes and barrel bombs dropped from helicopters.
Amateur videos posted on the Internet showed gruesome images of young men sprawled on the ground of what appears to be a market. Pools of blood and flames could be seen as people cried for help.