Syrian security forces have stormed the city of Hama and killed more than 80 people in a bid to crush a long-running anti-government protest, reports say.
Eyewitnesses said tanks and troops moved into the city earlier and have been firing on civilians. Hospitals say they are overflowing with casualties.
The government said troops had been sent in to remove barricades and roadblocks erected by the protesters.
US officials accused the government of waging "full-on warfare" on its people.
The assault was a last act of utter desperation by the Syrian government, said JJ Harder, a US embassy spokesman in the capital, Damascus.