Syrian activists: Troops fight defectors, 15 dead

By Bassem Mroue

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Dec. 3 2011 2:10 a.m. MST

Pro-Syrian regime protesters gather during a protest against sanctions, in Damascus, Syria, on Friday Dec. 2, 2011. The Syrian violence has led to several rounds of sanctions, a key tool used by the international community to exert pressure on the regime. The measures include travel bans and asset freezes. The EU's latest sanctions, which were announced Thursday, target 12 people and 11 companies. They add to a long list of regime figures previously sanctioned by the EU, including Assad, his top associates, and high-ranking security officials.

Bassem Tellawi, Associated Press

BEIRUT — A Syrian activist group says a clash between army defectors and troops in the northwest of the country has left at least 15 people dead.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Saturday's pre-dawn fighting in the city of Idlib has killed seven soldiers and policemen, as well as five anti-government army defectors and three civilians.

The U.N.'s top human rights official said this week that Syria is in a state of civil war, and that more than 4,000 people have been killed since mid-March.

Until recently, most of the bloodshed in Syria was caused by security forces firing on mainly peaceful protesters, but there have been growing reports of army defectors and armed civilians fighting regime forces.

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