BEIRUT  - The Syrian regime and rebel opposition forces on Sunday traded accusations of blame for a "massacre" of at least 10 people in the town of Tal Kalakh in the south of the conflict-ridden country.

"Last night, terrorists committed a new massacre against peaceful citizens in the city of Tal Kalakh in the Homs countryside, storming the Burj neighbourhood and killing a number of citizens, including women and children," state news agency SANA reported.

The agency said "terrorists," the term by which the Damascus regime and official media refer to rebel forces, had also looted homes and shops. "An official source said that the terrorist group stormed the Burj neighbourhood and killed 10 people, most of them children and women, before one of the units from our armed forces intervened," the agency added.

Activists pointed the finger of blame at government forces. "The bodies of 11 people, including eight women, were recovered after they were executed during a raid by regime forces in the Burj neighbourhood of Tal Kalakh today, according to activists in the area," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog said. Tal Kalakh, near Syria's border with Lebanon, was among the first Syrian towns to rise up against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, and regime forces have laid siege to it several times. Fierce fighting between rebels and regime forces has sparked an exodus of residents from the Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern city of Aleppo, a watchdog group said on Sunday.

Violence also engulfed areas in and around Damascus, where children were among eight civilians killed in shelling of Kafar Batna village, while a missile slammed into Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus costing more casualties.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog also reported that at least 62 people, more than half of them civilians, were killed nationwide on Easter Sunday. "The Sheikh Maqsud neighbourhood has seen a major exodus after shells hit the area, destroying several homes," the head of the Britain-based Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP. "Hundreds of cars carrying families were seen leaving the neighbourhood."

Battles have been raging in the strategic, predominantly Kurdish neighbourhood since Friday, as regime troops try to prevent rebels from advancing into the district. The battles have killed so far at least 43 people, including 15 civilians, 19 soldiers and pro-regime fighters as well as nine rebels, the Observatory said.

Sheikh Maqsud sits atop a hill, with vantage points over all second city Aleppo and its capture would be a key victory for the rebels, allowing them to target districts still in regime hands. On Saturday, the Observatory and Syrian state media reported that rebels had killed a pro-regime Sunni cleric in Sheikh Maqsud, dragging his body through the streets afterwards.

In other violence on Sunday, SANA reported that "armed terrorists groups" has "set fire to three oil wells in the province of Deir Ezzor, after a dispute between them on sharing stolen oil." In Damascus province, a car bomb exploded at a rebel checkpoint, killing at least five rebel fighters, the group added.