The head of the UN monitoring mission in Syria has said that helicopters and tanks were used to shell a town in the centre of the country before a massacre that is believed to have killed more than 140 people on Thursday.
The US, France and UK all condemned the violence and called for co-ordinated action from the UN Security Council. The army admitted killing a “big number of terrorists” but said no civilians had died. Activists initially claimed 200 people including civilians died but later said most of those killed were fighters.
Reacting to the events in Tremseh, Annan said: “I am shocked and appalled by news coming out of the village of Tremseh, near Hama, of intense fighting, significant casualties, and the confirmed use of heavy weaponry such as artillery, tanks and helicopters.”
“I condemn these atrocities in the strongest possible terms.” He said the government had violated the six-point peace plan it agreed to earlier this year.
Residents of the small town of around 6,000 people said they were attacked from outlying areas late on Thursday after many hours of shelling. Syrian officials instead blamed “terrorists”, who they say have been responsible for much of the violence in Syria since the uprising began almost 17 months ago.
Mr Annan said UN observers wereready to travel to Tremseh to investigate the killings. The head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (Unsmis), Maj Gen Robert Mood said, this could only take place “when there is a credible ceasefire”.