Syrian troops killed seven civilians on Wednesday when they stormed into two villages in the northwestern province of Idleb, a rights activist told AFP.
Tanks rolled into Mar-Ayan and Ihsem "opening fire and killing at least seven people," an activist in the region of Jabal al-Zawiyah, home district of the two villages, told AFP in Nicosia by telephone.
"The men are fleeing the villages because they are afraid they will be arrested," the activist said.
Earlier the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP soldiers were conducting searches in the village, as part of a crackdown on dissent against the autocratic regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
"Tanks and troop carriers entered the villages of Mar-Ayan and Ihsem. They are currently at the outskirts of Al-Bara," a hamlet known for its Roman remains, said Rami Abdel Rahman.
"The soldiers are deployed in the villages and are conducting searches," the head of the London-based Observatory said by phone.