Syrian forces on Thursday killed at least 10 people, as they stormed another two towns in pursuit of anti regime protesters, defying western calls for action after a "chilling" UN Security Council briefing.
The killings occurred soon after columns of tanks entered the town of Qusayr in the central province of Homs early on Thursday, sending residents fleeing into the fields, rights activist there said.
"The security forces opened fire on residents who tried to flee to the Al-Basateen district, killing at least five" one activist told AFP in Nicosia, adding later that the death toll rose to seven.
Another activist said 16 people had been wounded, adding that the army "has closed entrances to the town," while security forces were conducting arrests, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
Three other people were shot dead by security forces in the eastern oil hub of Deir Ezzor's Al-Matar neighbourhood and several houses were torched, the Britain-based rights group said.
Tanks, troop carriers and buses transporting security force members also sped into the town of Saraqeb in the northwestern Idlib province bordering Turkey soon after dawn on Thursday, the Observatory reported.
"Shooting was heard soon afterwards," it said, adding that security were "raiding homes and making arrests, rounding up more than 100 people, including 35 children."
"Army troops are smashing the doors of shops owned by activists in search of them, and they have cut off electricity in the town," where anti-regime protests have been held nightly, said the Observatory.