Syrian troops shelled and then stormed the village of Treimsa in the central province of Hama, monitors and activists said on Thursday, while 38 people were killed across the strife-torn country.
“Regime forces pounded Treimsa … using tanks and helicopters,” said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding that troops later stormed the besieged village.
“The village school was totally destroyed by the shelling,” a Hama-based activist who identified himself as Abu Ghazi told AFP via Skype.
“The shelling started at 6:00 am (0300 GMT) and the deployment around the village was massive,” he said.
According to the Observatory, seven civilians and one Free Syrian Army rebel were killed in Hama. The Syrian Revolutionary General Commission reported that one of the victims in Treimsa was a doctor, who was shot dead while trying to assist the wounded.
“After shelling Treimsa and clashes with the FSA, the army raided it, and scores of people are injured there.”
Abu Ghazi described Treimsa as a “big village” in the Hama countryside, and scene of frequent anti-regime protests in recent months.
“Every month, there is a major attack somewhere in Hama province, while arbitrary detentions happen every day,” the activist said. With Idlib in the northwest, Homs in the centre and much of the countryside of Aleppo in the north “out of control, the regime is trying to keep Hama on its side.”
“Hama is in the centre of Syria, and is a link in a chain of provinces where anti-regime feeling is strong; the regime will do anything to keep it controlled.”
Elsewhere, in the coastal province of Lattakia, pro-regime militiamen shot dead seven people in their cars, the Observatory said.
The Observatory confirmed a total of 38 deaths — 24 civilians, 11 soldiers and three rebels — across Syria on Thursday. The soldiers were killed in attacks on army checkpoints in Hama, Damascus province and Lattakia, the watchdog added.
According to estimates from the group, more than 17,000 people have been killed since the uprising erupted in mid-March last year, at first with peaceful protests.
It is not possible to independently verify death tolls. The United Nations stopped compiling such figures at the end of 2011.