Syria has denied accusations by the United Nation's Special Envoy Kofi Annan that it used heavy weapons or helicopters to attack the village of Tremseh last week.
Spokesman for Syria's Foreign Ministry, Jihad Makdissi, said security forces killed 37 fighters and two civilians in a campaign against the town in central Hama, from which the government said rebels were launching attacks on other areas.
Activists called it a "massacre", estimating the death toll ranges from 100 to 220, many of the victims whole families.
Mr Makdissi said: "Government forces did not use planes, or helicopters, or tanks or artillery. The heaviest weapon used was an RPG (rocket propelled grenade).
"What happened was not a massacre, what happened was a military operation. There were clashes between security forces, whose duty is to defend civilians, and heavily armed forces that don't believe in a political solution."
Syria has become mired in a bloody revolt against President Bashar al-Assad that is now in its seventeenth month. Some foreign officials now say the uprising that began as street protests has morphed into a civil war.
UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan, who is leading efforts to implement a peace initiative, said that Syria had violated its commitments to a UN backed peace effort.
Annan said: "I am shocked and appalled by news coming out of the village of Tremseh, near Hama, of intense fighting, significant casualties, and the confirmed use of heavy weaponry such as artillery, tanks and helicopters.
"This is in violation of the government's undertaking to cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres and its commitment to the six-point plan."