BEIRUT - Syrian rebels killed at least 12 soldiers in fierce fighting outside a military base in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Security forces responded with heavy-machine gun and mortar fire, killing at least one resident and demolishing a school building, the Britain-based group said.

Troops also launched raids on nearby villages looking for members of the militia groups that have been fighting for months for the overthrow of President Bashar Assad, the Observatory added.

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