Activists say Syrian troops have stormed villages close to the border with Turkey in pursuit of army defectors, and that at least three people and four soldiers died in clashes there.
Thursday's military operations centered around the Jabal al-Zawiyah region where defectors from the Syrian military are known to be active.
The London-based Syrian Human Rights Organization says Syrian forces are clashing with armed men believed to be defectors. It says three people and four troops have died.
The Local Coordination Committees activist group had no confirmation of the soldiers' casualties but said three people died.
A group of military defectors known as the Free Syrian Army is emerging as the first armed challenge to the regime after seven months of mostly nonviolent resistance.