Syrian army shells villages after defectors attack

AMMAN - Syrian troops shelled two northern villages on Thursday after an attack by army defectors on forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, local activists said, in an escalation of a military campaign to crush protests and a nascent armed insurgency.
Eight villagers were injured when tank shells and heavy mortars fell for three hours on Tal Minnij and Maarshamsheh and surrounding farmland, the activists said.
Army defectors had earlier attacked a building housing security forces near army depots in the Wadi al-Deif area on the edge of the town of Maarat al-Numaan, 290 km (180 miles) north of Damascus, they said.
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