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Over 20 dead as Syria troops attack Daraa town, activists say

Hundreds of soldiers backed by helicopter gunships attacked a town in southern Syria on Saturday, as at least 28 people were killed across the country, reports said.

"Tanks and hundreds of soldiers stormed Khirbet Ghazaleh amid heavy gunfire" following helicopter bombing raids, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without providing any casualty figures.

An activist on the ground who identified himself as Bayan Ahmad gave a similar account, saying pro-regime militias were torching houses in Khirbet Ghazaleh.

"The shabiha have carried out raids and set alight houses that inhabitants have abandoned," he said.

"The army entered without resistance as the rebel Free Syrian Army left town. The shelling has wounded dozens of people but we don't have medical resources to treat them," he added.

Khirbet Ghazaleh is situated in the southern province of Daraa, cradle of an uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad that erupted in March 2011.

Among Saturday's dead were 13 civilians, nine rebels and six soldiers, the Britain-based Observatory said.

Of the civilians, one was a pregnant woman killed in shelling of Qusayr city, but most of the deaths occurred in the central region of Hama, including from a blast, and in the northern province of Aleppo, near Turkey.

The bloodshed came a day after 118 people died in the country.

The violence has persisted despite an international outcry over the killing of more than 150 people in Treimsa village, in the central province of Hama, on Thursday.

It is not possible to independently verify death tolls in Syria. The United Nations stopped compiling such figures at the end of 2011.

The Observatory has said more than 17,000 people have been killed since the uprising erupted against the regime of Assad in mid-March last year.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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