On Eid al-Adha, deadly blast kills 21 civilians, violence rages on in Syria

SyriaAn estimate says 1,15,000 people have been killed so far in the Syrian conflict

A blast ripped through a pickup on Wednesday, killing 21 people in the latest attack on civilians in Syria's raging civil war, adding urgency to international efforts to convene peace talks.

The truck was passing through an area of Daraa province in southern Syria where troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are stationed when it was struck by the blast, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"Twenty-one people were killed in the Nawa area (of Daraa), among them four children and six women, in a blast that detonated as their vehicle went past Tal al-Jumua," the Britain-based Observatory said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, nor why a group of women and children were traveling in dangerous and disputed territory in the middle of the night.

The Observatory said activists are accusing the regime's troops of planting the explosives.

The deaths came as Muslims observe the holiday of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, and underscored just how relentless the violence in Syria's civil war is.

A battalion of troops loyal to Assad "is positioned there, and is under siege by rebel forces", it added.

Daraa is the cradle of the uprising that broke out against Assad in March 2011.

The Observatory says more than 115,000 people have been killed in the war that erupted after Assad's troops unleashed a brutal crackdown against protesters calling for political change.

Of those who have died, 41,533 were civilians, including 6,087 children and 4,079 women, according to the group.

Rebels fighting Assad's troops have made significant progress in recent months in Daraa, which is strategically located on the border with Jordan and near Damascus province.

The latest civilian deaths come as the United States presses efforts to persuade a key Syrian opposition group to drop its refusal to join planned talks in Geneva.

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