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Defections and clashes in northwest Syria

While the Arab league suspends Syria membership, security forces continue using violence in the north-western Syrian province of Idlib, near Turkey after scores of soldiers defected from the army

AFP , Saturday 12 Nov 2011

Clashes in the north-western Syrian province of Idlib, near Turkey, left one civilian dead on Saturday after scores of soldiers defected from the army, a human rights group told AFP.

"A civilian was killed on Saturday in Jebel Zawiyah in Idlib where there were clashes between the army and presumed defectors," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based Observatory said "50 to 60 soldiers" defected in the area.

Meanwhile, gunfire rattled Saraqeb, also in Idlib, after security forces encircled the town.

And in Homs, a central city at the forefront of protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, security forces carried out raids and arrests in the neighbourhoods of Bab Sebaa and Bab Dreib.

"Heavy gunfire was heard in the neighbourhood of Baba Amro," it said.

Security forces killed 23 people on Friday, the majority in Homs, where anti-regime demonstrators staged mass rallies calling on the Arab League to suspend Syria from the pan-Arab body.

At a meeting in Cairo on Saturday, the Arab League did just that and also called for sanctions and transition talks with the opposition.

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© 2010 Ahram Online.