Violence kills 25, while Syria condemns UN council
Violence gripped Syria Saturday with 25 people killed, most of them in battles between army defectors and regular army troops in the northern areas near the Turkish border, activists said, dpa reported.
The violence came as the Arab League committee met in Doha to discuss the implementation of sweeping sanctions imposed by the regional bloc on Syria for its failure to halt a deadly clampdown on opposition.
They are due to also review a travel ban on 17 Syrian officials, among them cabinet ministers and security officers.
Meanwhile, Syria condemned a United Nations Human Rights Council vote on rights violations by the country's security forces and described it as "unfair."
The UN Human Rights Council resolution passed in a vote on Friday was "unfair and prepared in advance by parties hostile to Syria," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run news agency SANA.
The council strongly condemned Syria for its violent crackdown of protesters and recommended urgent action by the United Nations.
"The report was politically motivated and based on false information circulated by movements outside Syria and unreliable as well as dishonest press organs," the ministry said.
A new report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay puts the number of people killed in Syria since March at 4,000.
However, a prominent Syrian opposition figure, contested the death toll figures issued by the UN.
"More than 10,000 have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in mid-March," Michel Kilo told the broadcaster Al Arabiya on Saturday.
The bloody state-sanctioned crackdown which has intensified, prompted the Pillay to warn of a civil war erupting in Syria.
Over the past few weeks, army personnel who have defected to the opposition, have claimed to have killed more than 25 soldiers in attacks on military facilities.
The dissident province of Idlib, near the Turkish border, was the scene of the worst violence Saturday. Fifteen people, including three civilians, were killed in clashes between army defectors and government troops, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
An officer was among seven members of the military killed in the four-hour fight, the London-based organization said. Five army defectors were also among the dead, it added.
Civilians were also killed in the southern province of Daraa and the central Homs, two focal points of anti-government dissidence.
In the western part of the country, government troops detained at least 27 people in the village of Talkalakh, which lies at the northern border with Lebanon.
According to a report by SANA, those detained were "terrorists."
The government has consistently accused "armed terrorist gangs" of being behind the unrest in the country.
It is difficult to verify the information coming out of Syria, as authorities have barred most independent media from the country.