Syria April 24, 2011.
A Syrian tank in the city of Daraa, April 24, 2011. Photo by AP
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Syrian troops used tanks to attack a village in the north of the country, the BBC reported on Saturday, citing a witness who had fled across the border to Turkey from a neighboring village.

The use of tanks would mark a further escalation in the violence used by Syrian troops to quell protests against President Bashar Assad, and follows reports on Friday from activists that helicopter gunships had been used to disperse crowds for the first time.

The BBC's witness said he came from a hillside village 4 kilometers from the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour, and that at around 6 a.m. on Friday he saw 40 tanks enter a village lower down the valley, surrounded by soldiers holding guns.

People were killed, and soldiers burnt crops of wheat and ripped up olive groves afterwards, the witness said.

After the attack he said he left his village with his family and moved to the Turkish border.

Thousands of Syrians have escaped to Turkey in recent days to avoid the crackdown on protests. Syrian authorities have said 120 troops were killed in Jisr al-Shughour earlier this week.