Syrian forces kill 9 deserters, fighting near Damascus

AFP , Monday 21 May 2012

Syria's Al-Assad regime troops kill nine army defectors in Damascus suburb, as a rocket exploded near a team of UN observers in Douma

Syrian forces ambushed and killed nine army deserters near a north Damascus suburb as fighting between armed rebels and troops raged around the capital during the night, a monitoring group said Monday.

The deserters were killed as they were retreating under cover of darkness from the village of Jisr al-Ab near Damascus's Douma suburb, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The watchdog had on Sunday reported fighting between rebels and regime troops near Douma, during which a rocket-propelled grenade exploded near a team of UN observers.

No one was hurt in the blast, which came as UN truce mission head Major General Robert Mood and peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous were leading observers around the north Damascus suburb.

Syrian soldiers who were on the spot have attributed the blast to an RPG rocket but UN observers have not commented on the nature of the explosion.

Heavy fighting was also reported during the night between regime soldiers and rebels in other parts of Damascus province, the Observatory said.

The clashes took place mainly in the Jisrain and Kfar Batna localities, according to the watchdog, which added there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Explosions were also heard in Deir Ezzor, Syria's main eastern city, the Observatory said. On Saturday a suicide car bomb attack in Deir Ezzor had killed nine people and wounded another 100.

Violence in Syria continues despite the presence of UN observers to oversee a truce that came into effect on April 12 but which has been consistently violated by both sides.

On Sunday, at least 48 people were killed across Syria, including 34 in an assault by regime forces on a village in central Hama province, the Observatory reported earlier.

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