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Activists say 27 army personnel killed in southern Syria

12-15-2011 19:15 BJT

DAMASCUS, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- At least 27 army and security personnel were killed during clashes with army defectors in Syria' s southern province of Daraa, a Britain-based activist group said Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights was cited by Arab satellite TVs as saying that the clashes took place at dawn on Thursday.

The report could not be independently verified with the absence of official comments.

Tensions in Syria began in March when protesters took to the streets to call for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. The situation has since escalated, and Syrian security forces have been accused of firing at innocent protesters.

The Syrian government has repeatedly denied that its forces deliberately kill anti-government protesters, saying that armed groups of the opposition should be responsible for the bloodshed.

The Syrian president said last week that about 1,100 members of the armed forces were killed during the unrest, while the United Nations put the death toll in the unrest at 5,000.

Assad blamed the violence on criminals, religious extremists and terrorists sympathetic to al-Qaida, claiming that they were mixed with peaceful demonstrators.

Meanwhile, Syria's official news agency SANA said two law- enforcement personnel were slightly injured Wednesday when an explosive device exploded near Ammoureen town in the central province of Hama.

The private Al-Watan newspaper said gunmen stormed a house in the central city of Homs on Wednesday and killed three people inside.

It added that seven bodies were found dumped in the streets of Homs with gunshots.

The paper said security forces clashed with gunmen at al- Inshaat neighborhood in Homs, killing and injuring 10 of them and arrested 10 others.

In the Mediterranean port city of Lattakia, the Syrian authorities dismantled two explosive devices planted in garbage.

The Syrian TV aired late Wednesday an interview with an alleged terrorist who was held accountable, along with three others, for kidnapping, raping and killing nine girls in Homs.

The interviewee, named Yehia Khudr Allaaz, confessed to participating in hijacking two minibuses in Homs and murdering nine young women after raping them, along with carrying out attacks against law enforcement forces' checkpoints in the city.

Allaaz, 38, said he joined an armed group in July along with the other three people, and he could get 2,000 Syrian pounds ( about 37 U.S. dollars) for each shooting he participated in.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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