Assad's forces fight deserters in southern Syria

AMMAN - Syrian troops fought deserters near a southern town overnight following the killing of at least three protesters demonstrating against the arrest of a popular cleric, residents and activists on Wednesday.
In the latest desertions among conscripts opposed to a military crackdown on seven months of pro-democracy protests, at least 20 soldiers left their outposts around the town of Hirak, 80 km (50 miles) south of Damascus in the Hauran plain near the border with Jordan, clashing with Assad's forces, they said.
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