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In Istanbul, the head of the Syrian National Council, an exile opposition group, called on the Security Council to meet urgently to discuss ways to protect the Syrian people, saying the latest killings raise doubts about Annan’s plan.

Kofi Annan is very much drifting away from the mission that he was entrusted with, which will make us reconsider everything he proposes,” Abdelbaset Sieda told reporters.

Two activists reached Friday via Skype said they were in villages near Tremseh and gave a chilling account of the violence.

Bassel Darwish said the army surrounded the village early Thursday to prevent people from fleeing and pounded it with artillery, tank shells and missiles from a combat helicopter.

“Lots of people tried to get the families out but they weren’t able to,” he said. After the shelling, the army entered with pro-government thugs, who gunned down and stabbed residents in the streets, he said.

Initially, Darwish said activists had determined 200 people died. However, later via Skype, he sent a list of 103 names of people he said were confirmed dead.

Another activist, Abu Ghazi al-Hamwi, said local rebels tried to fight off the army but couldn’t.

“They kept shelling the city and the weapons that the (rebel) Free Army had were not enough to keep them out,” he said, adding that he had been able to confirm 74 dead.


Associated Press writers Ben Hubbard in Beirut and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.