Middle East News
Clashes between Syrian army and defectors, says opposition
Jan 1, 2012, 7:53 GMT
Cairo - Syrian military forces clashed Sunday with army deserters in a restive area near the capital Damascus, opposition activists said.
The fighting in the town of Reef Damascus erupted as the government forces were hunting for suspected defectors, according to the activists. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Earlier this week, the dissident Syrian Free Army announced the suspension of attacks on military installations to facilitate the work of the Arab League observer mission to the country.
Overnight mass protests were held in Reef Damascus where the anti-government demonstrators wished President Bashar al-Assad 'a bleak New Year,' the activists reported.
A similar protest was held in the district of Al Bayada in the dissident province of Homs where demonstrators wearing Santa Claus outfits chanted slogans against al-Assad, the activists said.
More than 5,000 people have been killed in the government crackdown on pro-democracy protests since mid-March, according to the United Nations.