Thousands of Syrian troops in armored vehicles used machine guns and antiaircraft guns to launch a heavy assault on the resort town of Zabadani on the border with Lebanon.
The attack came a day after heavy fighting in the area between loyalist forces and army defectors.
Military defections are seen on the rise in Syria, as President Bashar al-Assad has used the army to wage a brutal crackdown on antigovernment protesters.
The United Nations says 3,000 people have died in seven months of violence.
Arab foreign ministers are meeting today in Cairo to discuss whether to suspend Syria from the Arab League for Assad's bloody response to the demonstrations.
Many Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, have already withdrawn their ambassadors from Syria in protest.
compiled from agency reports