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Syria: 18 Die In Bomb Attack, UN Special Envoy Describes Mission As 'Nearly Impossible'

AFP ( France), BBC (UK), AL JAZEERA (Qatar)


A Syrian fighter-jet killed 18 people in the rebel-held town of Al-Bab on Monday.

AFP reports that the airstrike on Monday was the latest in a series of attacks on towns and villages in Aleppo province.

Victims of the attack on the building in Al-Bab included 10 men, six women and two children.

The pro-rebel Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has released a statement alleging that 5,440 people have been killed in Syria in August, with at least 26,283 deaths since the uprising began in March 2011.

As fighting escalates across Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi told the BBC that his role as the UN-Arab League special envoy was "nearly impossible."

The former Algerian diplomat was appointed special envoy to Syria after former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan stepped down from the position, similarly describing his work as "mission impossible."

Brahimi told the BBC: "I'm scared of the weight of responsibility. People are already saying: "People are dying and what are you doing?""

Brahimi will meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on September 8. He has refused to call for Assad to step down. He told Al-Jazeera yesterday "it is too early to speak about who should go and who should stay."

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A Refuge From China's Rat Race: The Young People Flocking To Buddhist Monasteries

Unemployment, stress in the workplace, economic difficulties: more and more young Chinese graduates are flocking to monasteries to find "another school of life."

Photograph of a girl praying at a temple during Chinese Lunar New Year. She is burning incense.

Feb 20, 2015 - Huaibei, China - Chinese worshippers pray at a temple during the Lunar New Yeat

Frédéric Schaeffer

JIAXING — It's already dawn at Xianghai Temple when Lin, 26, goes to the Hall of 10,000 Buddhas for the 5:30 a.m. prayer.

Still half-asleep, the young woman joins the monks in chanting mantras and reciting sacred texts for an hour. Kneeling, she bows three times to Vairocana, also known as the Great Sun Buddha, who dominates the 42-meter-high hall representing the cosmos.

Before grabbing a vegetarian breakfast in the adjacent refectory, monks and devotees chant around the hall to the sound of drums and gongs.

"I resigned last October from the e-commerce company where I had been working for the past two years in Nanjing, and joined the temple in January, where I am now a volunteer in residence," explains the young woman, soberly dressed in black pants and a cream linen jacket.

Located in the city of Jiaxing, over a hundred kilometers from Shanghai, in eastern China, the Xianghai temple is home to some 20 permanent volunteers.

Unlike Lin, most of them only stay for a couple days or a few weeks. But for Lin, who spends most of her free time studying Buddhist texts in the temple library, the change in her life has been radical. "I used to do the same job every day, sometimes until very late at night, writing all kinds of reports for my boss. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I felt my life had no meaning," she says.

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