Hundreds of families on Monday fled Syria's restive city of Homs following reports of a "massacre" there of dozens of women and children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Hadi Abdallah, a Syrian activist in the central city, told AFP the bodies of 26 children and 21 women, some with their throats slit and others bearing stab wounds, were found in the Karm el-Zaytoun and Al-Adawiyeh neighbourhoods of the besieged central city.
"Hundreds of families fled Homs overnight, notably from the Karm el-Zaytoun neighborhood, for fear of new massacres by regime forces," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based group.
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The main opposition group, the Syrian National Council (SNC), called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss the "massacre", which it said took place on Sunday.
"The Syrian National Council is making the necessary contacts with all organisations and countries that are friends with the Syrian people for the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting," the SNC said in a statement.
However Syrian state television attributed the killings to "armed terrorist gangs", saying they had kidnapped residents of Homs, killed them and then made video footage of the bodies in an attempt to discredit Syrian forces.
News of the killings came as UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan left Damascus on Sunday without managing to secure an accord to end bloodletting in Syria, where more than 8,500 people have died since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad erupted a year ago.