Syria troops, deserters in deadly clash as toll soars

GENEVA/DAMASCUS/BEIRUT (AFP) – More than 2,900 people have been killed in Syria since the start of a crackdown on anti-regime protests, the UN said on Thursday a day before its human rights body was to discuss the situation.

“According to the detailed list of names of individuals we’ve been keeping, the total number of people killed since protests began in Syria now stands at more than 2,900,” Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told AFP in Geneva.

Colville said that figure could rise because “quite a lot more people” have been reported missing in Syria since the uprising started, and the UN has yet to verify their whereabouts.

Meanwhile on the ground, clashes between troops and deserters killed 12 people on Thursday, activists said.

“Seven soldiers and five deserters or civilians were killed in the clashes in villages west of Jabal Al Zawiya,” near the Turkish border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that dozens of people were wounded.

The Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees, an activist network opposed to the regime of President Bashar Assad, said soldiers and security forces raided the villages in Idlib province backed by tanks.

An army officer who has taken refuge in Turkey, Colonel Riad Al Asaad, claims to have established an opposition armed force called the “Syrian Free Army”, but its strength and numbers are unknown.

Also on Thursday, Syrian troops entered Lebanese territory and shot dead a Syrian living in a remote border area of the eastern Bekaa region, a security official told AFP


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