Damascus: Syrian troops killed 28 civilians in the central city of Hama Tuesday, monitors said, as UN military observers toured protest centres near the capital and both the European Union and the United States imposed new sanctions.
The persistent bloodshed 11 days into a promised ceasefire sparked growing criticism from opposition activists of the fledgling UN mission which still numbers just eight observers out of a planned initial deployment of 30.
Government troops strafed Hama`s Arbaeen neighbourhood and its environs with light and heavy machineguns, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Video footage posted online by activists showed mortar rounds hitting the area with plumes of smoke rising skywards.
The UN observers visited several rebel suburbs near the capital and were met by thousands of protesters demanding the collapse of the regime.
Amateur video posted by activists on YouTube showed four of the unarmed observers in blue helmets walking in Douma, a northern suburb of Damascus, surrounded by a huge crowd waving Syria independence flags.
"The people demand the fall of the regime," some chanted while others called for the arming of the rebel Free Syrian Army.
Monitors also visited the town of Zabadani, 50 kilometres northwest of the capital, where regime forces and rebel fighters have clashed repeatedly in past months.
Fares Mohamed, an activist in Zabadani, said the observers` visit lasted barely a half hour.
"They refused to head to a location less than a kilometre from the town to see tanks hidden by the regime," said Mohamed, who was reached via Skype.