Syrian government troops using tanks and helicopters massacred more than 100 people in the central province of Hama on Thursday.
The chief of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP, “Government troops bombarded the village using tanks and helicopters.”
Rahman put the death toll in the village of Treimsa at more than 100, adding the bodies of 30 villagers had already been identified following the sustained attack, which brought the day's total death toll in the conflict-torn nation to over 150.
Other opposition activists had placed the death toll in the area at more than 250.
The British Guardian quoted activists as having said the village had been attacked by helicopter gunships and tanks, and that pro-government militia men then moved in and carried out execution-style killings.
The state-run SANA news agency said there had been clashes between the army and an armed terrorist group in the village but made no mention of a massacre and gave no overall death toll.
Earlier on Thursday, the Britain-based Observatory had reported that "regime forces pounded Treimsa" and that eight civilians and one Free Syrian Army rebel were among those killed.
The Observatory said that more than 17,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising erupted in mid-March last year.
Such massacres are usually carried out by the “shabiha,” or pro-regime gunmen. Shabiha often operate as hired enforcers for Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
Shabiha thugs are known to frequently work closely with soldiers and security forces, but the regime never acknowledges their existence – allowing it to deny responsibility for their actions.
They were recently fingered by the UN as having carried out the massacre which killed more than 100 people in Houla.
The massacre in Hama took place as pressure is mounting on Assad to end the crackdown on protesters. Western powers are seeking a UN resolution that would give him ten days to silence his heavy guns or face tough sanctions.
Britain, France, Germany and the United States have submitted a draft text to the United Nations that would impose tough measures on Damascus if Assad fails to implement UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's plan.