16 killed in clashes between rebels and Syrian troops
Twelve rebels and four soldiers were killed in clashes Saturday in several areas across Syria, while the government claimed it had foiled an attempted "terrorist" infiltration by sea, DPA reported.
State news agency SANA reported that a military unit clashed with infiltrators, who were using inflatable boats, in the coastal city of Latakia. One soldier was killed and several injured.
The opposition denied the infiltration bid, and said navy defectors were fighting against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Earlier Saturday, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported fighting between troops and 30 army defectors near al-Assad's summer residence in Latakia.
Activists in the area said the deserters were from the presidential palace guards.
The opposition has reported a large number of defections from the army since the pro-democracy uprising started in March 2011.
Meanwhile, 10 rebels were killed in fighting in Kalamoon, near the capital Damascus, according to the Observatory, while SANA reported an attack in Aleppo in which three soldiers and two rebels died.
The daily reports of violence, even after a ceasefire went into effect on April 12, has cast doubts over the durability of a peace plan proposed by United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to end the bloodshed.
The government and opposition have traded accusations for the repeated violations of the truce.
Syrian state-run newspaper Tishreen on Saturday accused UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of encouraging "terrorist" rebels to carry out attacks to destabilize the country.
"The continued disregard of the international community and its cover for armed groups' crimes and terrorist acts is considered as direct participation in facilitating and carrying out the terrorism to which Syria is subjected to," read its editorial.
Ban said Friday that the continued crackdown by al-Assad's forces on protests had reached an "intolerable stage" and that the UN would try to speed up the deployment of up to 300 monitors in Syria.
There are currently only 15 observers, who are spread across dissident areas such as Hama, Homs and Daraa.
A Lebanese security official claimed the navy intercepted a ship suspected of carrying weapons meant for Syrian rebels. The vessel, Lutfallah II, was stopped by the Lebanese navy off the northern coast late Friday.
Lebanon's state-run Tele Liban TV reported that the ship had sailed from Libya and its owner was a Syrian national. Since the unrest began, Damascus has repeatedly claimed that weapons are smuggled from Lebanon into Syria for rebels seeking to oust al-Assad.