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Civilian among seven dead in Syria violence: activists

The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights says an officer was among six loyalist soldiers killed in clashes with rebel troops in the flashpoint central province of Homs

AFP , Sunday 18 Dec 2011

A civilian was among seven people killed in violence in Syria on Sunday as clashes raged between deserters and regular army troops in centres of protest against the regime, human rights activists said.

"Three armoured vehicles were destroyed and those inside were wounded and killed," the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, the Britain-based watchdog, said, adding the heavy exchange of fire in the town of Qusayr led to the "partial destruction of some houses."

In Idlib province, in the northwest near the border with Turkey, a civilian was killed and 29 wounded when security forces shelled and raided the villages of Iblin and Abdita, the Observatory said.

Clashes between deserters and loyalist troops continued for a second straight day in the province. Communications were cut off in the town of Maaret al-Numan where a pro-democracy general strike has lasted a week.

The violence came a day after the Arab League threatened to take Syria to the UN Security Council and accused Damascus of stalling over its request to send observers to the country as part of a plan to end nine months of bloodshed.

A strike was observed in the majority of villages in Daraa province, south of the capital, where the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime erupted in March, the Observatory said.

In the Daraa district of Tafas, troops began removing roadblocks erected by residents during the strike and used cranes to try to open the roads into the villages of Zeizun and al-Ajami.

Authorities also arrested two army lieutenants, one in Daraa and one in Damascus province, the Observatory added.

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