Syrian activists say troops backed by tanks and artillery have pushed into the city of Al-Rastan and killed at least 15 army defectors as part of ongoing clashes between government and mutinous troops.
Reports from within the city said heavy shelling could be heard across Al-Rastan and that the army was carrying out a house-to-house search for deserters.
Meanwhile, representatives of Syria's main opposition grouping met behind closed doors in Istanbul.
The Syrian National Council, which brings together various factions and around 140 opposition figures opposing President Bashar al-Assad, was founded in Istanbul in late August.
compiled from agency reports