BEIRUT - Nine Syrian soldiers were killed on Wednesday in an attack on their vehicle in a central town believed to have been carried out by army deserters, a Syrian rights group said.

"Gunmen, believed to be defected soldiers, fired a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) on their bus in the village of Hamrat near Hama," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement. Hama is 205 km (130 miles) north of the capital Damascus.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, facing a seven-month-old revolt against his 11-year rule, has sent troops and tanks into various towns to silence protesters.

After months of clashes between protesters and security forces, which have killed 3,000 people, army deserters have formed the beginnings of an armed insurgency against the state.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger