34 killed in new Syria violence: NGO

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Beirut, Mar 12:  At least 34 people, almost half of the civilians, were killed across Syria today as peace envoy Kofi Annan held a second round of talks with President Bashar al Assad, a monitoring group said.

The casualties comprised 15 civilians, 14 regular army soldiers and five rebel fighters, with most of the casualties occurring in the provinces of Idlib and Damascus and in the city of Hama, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. "Fierce fighting has been raging between deserters and regular army troops since morning in the Idlib province village of Al-Janudieh," the head of the Observatory Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP in Beirut.

"A civilian and three regular troops were killed and a troop carrier damaged," in the northwestern province, he said. A soldier was also killed in a bomb blast in the Idlib village of Marehian and another by heavy machinegun fire in the village of Najiah, said the Britain-based Abdel Rahman.

A woman and her son as well as two soldiers were killed in Ariha during clashes between regime troops and defector, while another soldier died in fighting in the Jabal al-Zawiya rebel stronghold, he added. In the city of Idlib four civilians were killed when they caught in the crossfire of clashes between deserters and army troops. Six regime troops and two deserters were also killed in clashes in the central city of Hama while four civilians died in the nearby province of Homs, three of them brothers killed when a rocket fell on their house.

An ambush elsewhere in the Homs province killed an army officer and wounded five others. Clashes between deserters and army troops also killed three defectors in the Damascus countryside and a civilian was shot dead by security forces during a raid inside the capital itself.

Earlier state news agency SANA said "terrorists" shot dead boxing champion Ghiath Tayfour, in the northern city of Aleppo, where monitors said a Kurdish women activist was shot dead at a security checkpoint at dawn. The Syrian army stormed Idlib yesterday after shelling the city and province for days and massing troops to snuff out fighters from the rebel Free Syrian Army, activists have said.

AFP 

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