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28 soldiers among 39 dead in Syria: rights group

'Majority died in direct fighting with rebels,while other soldiers were killed in a rebel attack on two buildings'

Written by Agencies | Beirut | Published: June 20, 2012 3:22:44 pm

Twenty-eight soldiers and a Shiite Muslim cleric were among 39 people killed in violence across Syria today,the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

At least 20 troops were killed in fierce clashes with rebel fighters in the northwestern province of Latakia,the Britain-based watchdog said.

Five rebels were also killed in the clashes that began late yesterday and continued through dawn today in a region known as the Kurdish Mountain near the border with Turkey.

“The majority died in direct fighting with the rebels,while other soldiers were killed in a rebel attack on two buildings,which the army was using to launch mortar attacks against the Kurdish Mountain,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Dozens of soldiers were also wounded,Abdel Rahman said.

“A number of soldiers,including an officer,were captured by the rebels,who also took their weapons,” he added.

In Idlib,another northwestern province that borders Turkey,five government troops were killed when a car bomb exploded at their checkpoint overnight. Explosions and shooting were also heard in the town of Maaret al-Numan,the Observatory said.

In the central province of Hama,clashes in the town of Kernaz left three soldiers dead. Shelling by government troops also killed a man and his wife.

“Unidentified gunmen assassinated a Shiite cleric in Sayyida Zeinab,” the Observatory said,referring to an area of south Damascus that houses a revered Shiite shrine of the same name and is home to many Iraqi refugees.

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