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Five Syrian troops killed in clash with deserters: NGO

Syrian rebels stand in front of the remains of a burnt military vehicle belonging to Syrian government forces.—AP Photo

BEIRUT: Five Syrian soldiers were killed on Tuesday in fighting with deserters in the restive southern province of Daraa, a monitoring group said.

“Five soldiers were killed and three others wounded in fighting which broke out at 3.00 am in the village of Dael with a group of deserters some of whom were wounded,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Shooting continued for several hours, it added, with Syrian troops firing on the town in Daraa, the cradle of the protests that erupted against President Bashar al-Assad's regime in March last year.

Separately, in the flashpoint central city of Homs, under assault by regime forces for more than three weeks, the Observatory and activists reported fresh shelling on Tuesday morning.

The rebel-held Baba Amr district was “bombarded for the 25th straight day by regime forces,” according to a post by activists on the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page.

“The shells are falling and the world watches,” said an activist in a video showing columns of black smoke rising from bombed buildings.

Explosions were also heard in the Khaldiyeh and Karm al-Zaytoun districts, while fighting broke out in Hamidiyeh, another embattled Homs neighbourhood, between deserters who control a large part of it and regular troops, the same source said.

The Observatory on Monday reported more than 100 people killed across Syria, including 11 members of the security forces, and 68 civilians in what the Britain-based monitoring group called a “massacre” in Homs province.

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