A picture released by the Syrian opposition shows smoke rising from a Homs neighborhood Wednesday.
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(CNN) — Syrian protesters Friday demanded the removal of international envoy Kofi Annan after government forces shelled a village a day earlier, killing hundreds, opposition activists said.
Annan, a former U.N. chief, is serving as a special envoy to Syria for the United Nations and the Arab League.
He brokered a peace plan in Syria in April, but opposition fighters and regime forces have largely shunned its mandates, including a call to lay down their weapons.
Protesters took to the streets in solidarity with victims of the late Thursday attack that left at least 220 dead in the village of Tremseh in Hama province, according to the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria.
Regime forces targeted the village with relentless shelling for hours, leading to the “massacre,” the opposition group said.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, another opposition group, issued a conflicting toll. It said it received reports of 160 deaths in the village, but has documented only 40.Regime forces targeted the village with relentless shelling for hours, leading to the “massacre,” the opposition group said.
CNN cannot independently verify reports from Syria because the nation has restricted access by international journalists.
If confirmed, the death toll reported by the LCC would make Thursday the bloodiest day in Syria since the uprising against the government started 16 months ago.
“We had some hope about the Annan mission, and that hope died with the new massacre in Tremseh,” said Ahmed, an activist from Homs who did not want all names used for safety reasons. “And what is Annan going to do?”
The government painted a different picture of the attacks.
In a report in state media, Syria said more than 50 people were killed in Tremseh, maintaining its stance that “armed terrorist groups” are to blame. The government said residents called security forces for help after the terrorist groups raided the neighborhood.
Regime forces arrested some of the members of the terror groups and confiscated their weapons, the government said.
The conflict in Syria has left world leaders scrambling to find a solution in a series of talks that have included Annan.
On the main Facebook page for the uprising, opposition leaders accused Annan of failing to stop the killing of civilians.
They demanded his removal from his role as special envoy and urged protesters to make that the theme of Friday protests.
President Bashar al-Assad’s bloody crackdown on civilians has sparked international condemnation, but the support of allies such as Russia and China has protected the Syrian regime and hindered a resolution by the United Nations.
Annan brokered the six-point peace plan in April, and Syria accepted the plan, which proposed an end to the violence, access to humanitarian groups and an inclusive political dialogue.
“Kofi Annan is doing, so far, difficult but good work,” al-Assad said Sunday. “There are many obstacles, but it shouldn’t be a failed plan.”
Russia and China, which are permanent U.N. Security Council members, have vetoed draft resolutions that would have condemned the Syrian regime.
The U.N. Security Council on Thursday discussed dueling draft resolutions on Syria. Ambassadors remain at odds over whether a Western-backed resolution should invoke a U.N. charter mandating sanctions and ultimately leading to an authorization of the use of force.
Syrian activists and political opposition groups have said the Security Council meetings are not yielding results, and they urged their fighters to mobilize and intensify their efforts to oust the regime.
“We keep hearing about the reports they keep submitting to the Security Council, but to no avail, and the empty promises of protecting the Syrian people, without any serious action on the ground,” the Syrian National Council said in a statement.
The U.N. Security Council discussions at the ambassador level are scheduled to resume Friday. Annan plans to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday in Moscow.
Meanwhile, the regime has suffered a series of setbacks. Syria’s ambassador to Iraq defected Wednesday and joined the opposition, days after the son of a former defense minister cut ties with the government.
CNN’s Ivan Watson, Saad Abedine and journalist Shiyar Sayed Mohamed contributed to this report.