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Activists Say Syrian Forces Kill Four Defecting Soldiers

Syrians gather around a bus with shattered windows after shootings during a protest near Damascus. The UN estimates that at least 2,700 people have died in during the unrest in the country.
Activists say that four Syrian soldiers were shot dead on September 26 as they tried to escape a military camp and troops sealed off towns in a continuing crackdown on opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

The military campaign has focused on towns and villages north of the city of Homs, where increasing numbers of defectors have been organizing and mounting guerrilla raids on roadblocks manned by troops and gunmen loyal to Assad.

Meanwhile, in a speech to the UN General Assembly, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem said that external forces were to blame for the violence and for causing delays in Assad's plans for democratic reforms.

According to the United Nations, the military crackdown has killed at least 2,700 people, including 100 children.

Syrian authorities say 700 police and army have been killed during the unrest, which they blame on "terrorists" and "mutineers."

Syria has barred most foreign media, making it difficult to verify accounts by authorities and activists.

compiled from agency reports