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Originally published Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 4:53 AM

Syrian troops, army defectors clash

Syrian activists say battles between troops and army defectors are spreading after a day of fierce clashes in the south.

Associated Press

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BEIRUT —

Syrian activists say battles between troops and army defectors are spreading after a day of fierce clashes in the south.

The 9-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad has grown increasingly violent in recent months as defecting soldiers fight back against the army.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says new clashes were reported Monday in the northwestern region of Idlib. It says fighting also continued for a second day in the southern province of Daraa.

Syria's state media meanwhile has reported that voting started in scheduled municipal elections, but witnesses say turnout was low. The opposition does not consider the vote a legitimate concession by the regime because it coincides with a deadly crackdown.

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