AMMAN - The main Syrian National Council opposition group on Thursday called for stepped up military assaults on President Bashar Assad's forces in the wake of a massacre in the province of Hama it said left 80 civilians dead and 30 missing.
In a rare call for direct military action, the council said in a statement that rebels operating under the Free Syrian Army umbrella should "escalate battlefield action" to ease pressure on civilians "under siege, shelling and assaults in the provinces of Hama, Latakia and Homs".
Opposition activists said security forces and pro-Assad militiamen from the president's minority Alawite sect, known as 'shabbiha', killed at least 78 Sunni Muslim men, women and children in the village of Mazraat al-Qabeer in farmland 35 kms (22 miles) northwest of the city of Hama on Wednesday.
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