Syrian Vice President Farouk Sharaa made a public appearance on Sunday, putting an end to claims by the Syrian opposition that he had defected from Assad's regime and fled to Jordan. Sharaa's cousin, Colonel Yarab Sharaa, defected two weeks ago.

Sharaa was born in Daraa in 1938. He entered public service in 1963, and in 1976 was appointed ambassador to Rome. In 1984 he was named foreign minister, and in 2006 was appointed as vice president instead of Abdal-Khalim Khaddam who had defected to the West a year before.

More than 200 bodies were found on Saturday in a town outside Damascus a day after it was retaken by the Syrian army, opposition activists said, accusing President Bashar Assad's forces of mass summary executions.

Local activists initially reported finding 79 bodies, but 122 more were found later in the day. Most were found in houses and basement shelters of residential buildings and appear to have been shot dead by troops who had stormed the premises, they said.

Due to restrictions on non-state media, it was impossible to independently verify the accounts.