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At Least 19 More Killed In Syria As Clashes Continue

Government soldiers patrol in Ain Tarma, near Damascus
Reports from Syria say at least 16 soldiers and three civilians have been killed in clashes around the country between government troops and deserters who are siding with antigovernment demonstrators.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 10 soldiers were killed when their military convoy was attacked at Kansafra in the Jebel al-Zuwiya area of northwestern Syria on January 29.

The group says three civilians also were killed the same day amid fierce fighting between regime troops and deserters in the Ghuta area about 10 kilometers from Damascus.

Fighting in Ghuta on January 28 reportedly left 17 dead -- 11 soldiers and six civilians.

Meanwhile, Syria's official SANA news agency said six soldiers, including two officers, were killed on January 29 when their bus was targeted by "armed terrorists" near the Damascus suburb of Sahnaya.

The reports are difficult to independently verify because of a government ban that prevents foreign journalists from reporting from within the country.

Russia on January 29 criticized an Arab League decision to suspend its monitoring mission to Syria amid the latest clampdown.

compiled from agency reports