Syrian troops kill townsfolk in crackdown

Anti-regime protesters in Syria were hunted down by Syrian forces, with five people killed on Thursday.

Forces stormed two towns looking for dissidents despite western calls to stop.

Tanks entered Qusayr in the central province of Homs early on Thursday according to a local activist.

"Residents fled into the fields and all communications have been cut with the town," the activist said.

"The security forces opened fire on residents who tried to flee to the Al-Basateen district, killing at least five," said the activist.

European members of the U.N. Security Council threatened Syria with tougher action unless the government in Damascus ceased its violence.

Western diplomats say sanctions would be the next logical step in dealing with Damascus.

But Russia and China — backed by Brazil, India, and South Africa — have opposed sanctions.

In what’s been described as a “chilling report” Western diplomats say U.N. deputy political-affairs chief Oscar Fernandez-Taranco told a closed Security Council session this week that nearly 2,000 civilians had been killed in Syria since anti-government protests began in March..

According to AFP, Taranco said there had been no letup in the deaths of protesters while UN officials had met Syrian diplomats to try to get accurate information.

Taranco's briefing had been "depressing and chilling," Britain's deputy UN ambassador Philip Parham later told reporters.