Story highlights

Most of the dead are in Hama, which opposition activists say is being shelled

Syria's government denies reports that defectors killed top officials

Estimates of the death toll range as high as 11,000 over 14 months

CNN  — 

At least 33 more people were killed Sunday in Syria’s 14-month-old crackdown on opponents of President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, a leading opposition group reported.

Among the dead, at least 40 were killed in the northwestern city of Hama, where a neighborhood sustained heavy shelling by government troops, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists.

The United Nations says at least 9,000 people have been killed since initially peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad erupted in March 2011. Opposition activists put the toll at more than 11,000.

Syria’s government, meanwhile, said it buried 18 more members of its security forces who died battling “armed terrorist groups” around the country. CNN cannot independently verify reports of deaths and violence because the Syrian government has severely restricted access by international media.

The fighting has continued despite a peace plan brokered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, now a special envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League.

Syria’s government Sunday denied claims by the rebel Free Syrian Army, a group of military defectors who have taken up arms on behalf of the oppostion, that it had killed several of its leading government officials. The state-run news agency SANA called the claim “categorically baseless” and quoted two of the supposedly slain officials dismissing the report.

“I am speaking from my office at the Interior Ministry,” SANA quoted Lt. Gen. Mohammad al-Shaar, the country’s interior ministry. “All my colleagues are performing their duties.”

Al-Shaar and Syria’s assistant vice president, Gen. Hasan Turkmani, were both quoted criticizing Arabic news networks Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, which broadcast the claim.