DAMASCUS: Syrian troops pressed a campaign to crush anti-regime opponents Thursday, activists said as France held out the threat of military action to halt the bloodshed that has persisted despite a ceasefire.
Two weeks into the truce, at least two people were killed in the town of Maree, near the northern city of Aleppo, and one man died in the village of Mohsen, northeastern Deir Ezzor province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Loud blasts and heavy gunfire were reported in Harasta, a suburb of Damascus, said the Britain-based watchdog said, adding regime troops carried out raids between Harasta and Barzeh, a district of the capital.
Activists reported clashes in other regions as well, including the southern province of Daraa, cradle of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule, in northwestern Idlib province and in central Homs.
Explosions and powerful gunfire were also reported overnight in Hama, where the Observatory said at least 12 people were killed on Wednesday during government shelling on a working-class neighbourhood.
Some activists have put the death toll from Wednesday's bombing of Hama at 68, including 16 children.
The unrest was taking place despite a ceasefire that has failed to take hold, with hundreds killed since it went into effect April 12.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Wednesday said the UN-backed peace plan was "seriously compromised" and held out the threat of seeking military action to end the Assad regime's brutal 13-month crackdown on dissent.
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan had urged a rapid deployment of the full, 300-strong observer team agreed by the UN Security Council, and Juppe said they should be on the ground within a fortnight.
Without quick progress, Juppe said the international community would have "to move on to another step which we have already started raising with our partners, under Chapter Seven of the United Nations charter."
A Chapter Seven resolution, which can be imposed by the Security Council if member states think peace is threatened by an act of aggression, authorises foreign powers to take measures including military options. (AFP)