The international community has condemned a brutal crackdown on Syrian protesters that left more than 145 people dead.
The major tank assault in the city of Hama, where President Bashar al Assad’s father crushed an armed Islamist uprising 19 years ago, was one of the bloodiest days of the five-month long revolt.
Witnesses said snipers were shooting from rooftops and tanks fired their machine guns at random on Sunday.
US President Barack Obama said in a statement he was “appalled by the use of violence and brutality” against the Syrian people.
“The reports out of Hama are horrifying and demonstrate the true character of the Syrian regime,” he said.
“Once again, President Assad has shown that he is completely incapable and unwilling to respond to the legitimate grievances of the Syrian people.
“His use of torture, corruption and terror puts him on the wrong side of history and his people.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the “shocking” raids and said there was “no justification” behind them.
He also called on President Assad to “stop this assault on his own people”.
Germany has requested that the UN Security Council meet later today to discuss the worsening violence in the country.
The European Union plans to extend sanctions against Syria on Monday by slapping asset freezes and travel bans on five more people.
EU sanctions already target Assad and at least two dozen officials, as well as Syrian firms linked to the military.
In southern Syria, rights campaigners said security forces had killed three civilians when they stormed houses in the town of al-Hirak, 20 miles (35km) northeast of the city of Deraa.
And there were also claims soldiers threw nail bombs at anti-government protesters in a suburb of of the capital Damascus.
The Muslim festival of Ramadan has now begun, meaning many people will flock to mosques to pray at night, occasions which may provide opportunities for protests to multiply across Syria.
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