Syrian rights activists say government troops have attacked several villages in the country's northwest, killing at least four civilians as part of a months-long crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
The activists say Syrian tanks shelled the village of Rameh in Idlib province Wednesday, prompting many residents to flee as soldiers conducted searches for dissidents. They say Syrian forces also rolled into the villages of Ihsim, Marayn, and al-Bara, known for its Roman-era remains.
There was no independent confirmation of the violence.
Syria has barred foreign journalists from covering its crackdown on protests demanding an end to President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year autocratic rule. Thousands of people in northern Syria have fled the crackdown into neighboring Turkey.
Rights activists say at least 1,300 civilians have been killed since the uprising began in March. The Syrian government says hundreds of Syrian security forces also have died in violence it blames on terrorist groups.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.