A Syrian government official has rejected allegations that forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad killed more than 100 people in the city of Homs on Tuesday.
The unnamed official denied the claims of a "massacre" - made by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which supports the rebels - telling Reuters that no such killings took place in that area.
"The army protects civilians and their properties", he said.
The official also claimed that troops are suffering casualties around Syria as rebels are using civilians as "human shields".
It is not possible to independently verify the activists' claims due to reporting restrictions in Syria.