Witnesses have reported violent battles in the northern Syrian town of Jisr Al-Shughour, which, its claimed, also involve assaults by helicopters and tanks.
State television is reporting heavy clashes between the military and armed gangs. It is the latest action to crush an unprecedented challenge to President Bashar al-Assad.
Witnesses say most of the town’s 50,000 strong population has fled towards the Turkish border, only 20 kilometres away. Five thousand have already made it across and a further ten thousand are said to be waiting on the Syrian side.
The US says this is now a humanitarian crisis. The International Red Cross is building a fourth camp to cope with the influx.
British Foreign Minister William Hague says calls for a UN resolution condemning the Syrian government’s crackdown rest on a political “knife-edge”.