12 Dec 2011

Syrian army and defectors 'battling in south'

Hundreds of army defectors in southern Syria have fought with loyalist forces in one of the biggest armed confrontations in a nine-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, residents and activists said. Troops, mainly from the 12th Armoured Brigade, based in Isra, 40km from the border with Jordan, stormed the nearby town of Busra al-Harir, the Reuters news agency reported.

Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting from near the Jordan-Syria border, said that the clash started when "tens of tanks mounted with machine guns opened fire in that area earlier on Sunday morning to try to put an end to a general strike" called for by the opposition.

syrian defectors

The sound of explosions and heavy machine guns was heard in Busra al-Harir and in Lujah, an area of rocky hills north of the town, where defectors have been hiding and attacking military supply lines. At least 22 people were killed by government troops on Sunday, including a woman and four children, activists said. Nine of them were killed in the city of Homs, six in Hama, three in Deraa, two in Idlib and another two outside of Damascus. At least five Syrian soldiers, including a military officer, were also reportedly killed.

Al Jazeera English