The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nationwide violence cost the lives of at least 87 people on Monday, adding to its overall toll of more than 14,100 killed since an anti-regime revolt erupted in March 2011, AFP reported.
In Al-Heffa and Rastan, Syrian helicopters bombarded on rebel and opposition areas.
An activist broke down in tears as she told AFP via internet phone service Skype that tanks were parked on the edge of Al-Heffa, a town of 30,000 people set in rugged countryside in the northwest near the Turkish border.
“They have never come this close before,” Sem Nassar said, adding most residents had fled.
Such reports prompted Washington to voice concerns that Assad’s regime is planning to carry out new atrocities, following the massacre of 55 people last week in Al-Kubeir and at least 108 near Houla on May 25 and 26.
“The United States joins joint special envoy Kofi Annan in expressing deep alarm by reports from inside Syria that the regime may be organising another massacre,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Nuland said the tactics showed the Assad regime, cracking down on the most severe threat to his family’s four-decade rule, was “increasingly desperate”.
“What government voluntarily uses helicopters and fires from them on their own civilians if they’re not desperate? What government depends on a bunch of thugs in trucks – irregulars – if they’re not desperate?” she asked.
However, Nuland again ruled out US military intervention.