Syrian army defectors killed 6 government troops in heavy fighting today in the country's rebellious central region, activists said, in the latest sign that the nation's uprising may be shifting toward civil war.
"Three armoured vehicles were destroyed and those inside were killed and wounded," according to the group, which relies on a network of activists inside the country. It said the clashes also resulted in the "partial destruction of some homes".
Heavy gunbattles were also reported today in several villages in the restive Jabal al-Zawiya region near the Turkish border, where many defectors are believed to operate.
The Arab League has given Syria until Wednesday to allow observers into the country or else it is likely to turn to the UN Security Council for action to try to end the deadly violence against regime opponents, Qatar's prime minister said yesterday.
The United Nations has been waiting for word from the Arab League before moving ahead with a resolution on Syria. A clear nod from Damascus's Arab neighbours could ease Russian and Chinese opposition to sanctions. Both nations have veto power at the Security Council.
The Arab plan calls for Syria to halt its crackdown, hold talks with the opposition and allow in Arab observers to ensure compliance with the deal. It does not call for foreign military intervention, as happened in Libya.
The 22-member League has also suspended Syria's membership and imposed sanctions, but it has been divided over whether to seek the help of the wider international community beyond the Arab world.