More than 250 people have been killed by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the village of Tremseh in Hama province, according to opposition activists.
The Revolution Leadership Council of Hama told Reuters that most of those killed were civilians. The opposition activists 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.
Reports of the massacre come as the international community remains deadlocked over how to resolve the Syrian crisis, with Russia and China continuing to oppose a western move to press the United Nations to threaten Damascus with sanctions before 20 July.
That is the day the mandate expires for the current UN mission which, despite a 90-day remit, has failed to stem a mounting casualty toll in Syria, where the daily death toll often tops 100.
China and Syria’s allies have agreed to an extension of the mission, but have refused to support a UN resolution that allows for the threat of new sanctions.
Western nations want to ensure that a 10-day ultimatum to Syria to withdraw its heavy weapons and pull back from towns and cities is a central part of a new resolution, which must be passed before the current mission’s term expires next Friday.
UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has warned of “clear consequences” if a ceasefire does not take root this time.
Annan has returned from visits to Damascus, Tehran and Baghdad, where he has tried to secure support for a new attempt to establish a ceasefire in Syria.