The intensity of what can now be called a civil war in Syria continues unabated.
Troops and militiamen loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday were accused of new massacres of scores of villagers.
The new report came just hours ahead of a United Nations Security Council session on Assad’s brutal 15-month crackdown on a popular uprising against his regime.
If confirmed, the killings of at least 78 people at Mazraat al-Qabeer, near Hama, will pile pressure on world powers to act.
However, analysts say there are few signs they can overcome sharp divisions between Western and Arab states on the one hand, and Assad’s defenders in Russia, China and Iran on the other.
Several activists reported women and children were among the dead when the village in central Syria came under artillery bombardment before fighters moved in on the ground and shot and stabbed dozens of people to death.
Rights activists say at least 14 000 people – most of them civilians – have been killed in Syria’s entrenched and bloody Arab Spring uprising.