1. ITV Report

Thousands of Syrians flee amid massacre fears

Thousands of Syrians flee amid massacre fears. Photo: Reuters

Hundreds of people fled two coastal towns in Syria where women and children are reported to have been killed by government forces.

The violence occurred as embattled Syrian President Assad made his second public appearance in a week in the capital of Damascus.

The British-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said around 4,000 people were fleeing from the predominantly Sunni Muslim southern parts of the Mediterranean city of Banias amid fears that pro-government gunmen "might commit a massacre".

Tom Barton reports:

The killings took place two days after state forces and pro-Assad militias killed at least 50 Sunnis in the nearby village of Baida. A video posted online by other activists showed a pile of nearly 20 bodies in the town that they said were all from the same family. Several women and nine children were among the dead.

At least 62 people overnight and left bloodied and burned corpses piled in the streets, the Observatory said. The Local Co-ordination Committees, another activist group, said 102 people were killed.

The United States condemned the violence in the country. An US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki:

We strongly condemn atrocities against the civilian population and reinforce our solidarity with the Syrian people.

Those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law and serious violations and abuses of human rights law must be held accountable.

– US State Department spokeswoman
Unverified image of air strikes over Syria. Credit: Reuters

Also, Israeli officials confirmed that the country's air force carried out an air strike against Syria, saying it targeted a shipment of "advanced missiles" bound for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, an ally of the Assad regime.

President Obama said the US will not "leap before we look" over alleged use of chemical weapons.