syria - AP - June 12 2011
Syrian army soldiers ride on their military trucks as they enter the villages near the town of Jisr al-Shughour, north of Damascus, Syria. Photo by AP
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Four people were killed on Tuesday in clashes believed to have erupted between Syrian troops and army defectors in the northern province of Idlib, a rights group said.

"Three army members and one citizen were killed on Tuesday during clashes between troops in the area of Jabal az-Zawiya and an armed group believed to be army defectors," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Security forces have clamped down on army defectors who refused to shoot at the peaceful protesters over the past days in the central province of Homs.

Meanwhile, a former army officer who defected three months ago and formed the opposition Free Syrian Army denied reports that he had been arrested by authorities.
Riyad Asaad however gave no further details on his whereabouts in the interview with broadcaster Al Arabiya.

An estimated 2,700 people have been killed in the government crackdown on pro-democracy protests, according to the United Nations. The protesters have since mid-March been demanding that President Bashar Assad steps down.