Deserters Form Rebel Units in Syria

The conflict in Syria has heated up in the central town of Rastan, where seven soldiers and police have been killed in a confrontation with army defectors, Reuters reported. The state news agency said Syrian troops have inflicted big losses on what it called “armed terrorist groups” during a three-day offensive, but have had 39 casualties of their own. Security forces have remained mostly loyal to President Bashar al-Assad during six months of protests in Syria, but army deserters, including many who defected because they refused to gun down demonstrators, have formed rebel units in farming areas around Rastan. At least 1,000 deserters and armed villagers have been fighting the Assad loyalists, who have tanks and helicopters, according to residents.

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