Syria violence kills 17 on deadline day, activists say

Deadly violence on Monday killed 17 people across Syria, including at least seven civilians, on the day the government is expected to pull out from protest hubs as per a UN-Arab League peace plan, monitors said.

Six civilians were killed in shelling that hit the old district of Khaldiyeh, in Homs, and another was shot dead in the neighborhood of Bab Tadmour, also in the central city, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based center said regime forces shot four people in the village of Kafr Zita, in the central Hama province, where troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad carried out arrests.

It did not specify whether the dead were civilians or rebel fighters.

The center had reported earlier that unidentified gunmen killed six soldiers in the northeastern province of Hasaka, in an attack that occurred between the villages of Masaada and Marqada.

It also reported clashes between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebel fighters in the area of Mzeyreeb, in the southern province of Daraa, the cradle of the dissent movement launched a year ago.

Meanwhile, explosions were heard outside Douma, a northern suburb of the capital, the center said.

The Local Coordination Committees, one of the main opposition groups inside Syria, said "large military reinforcements" had arrived overnight on the eastern outskirts of Rastan, in the central province of Homs.

The reports, which cannot be verified due to curbs on foreign media, came after one of the bloodiest days in Damascus' crackdown on Arab Spring-inspired protests that has seen some people take up arms against the regime.

Under the peace plan agreed with UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, the Syrian government is supposed to withdraw its forces from population centers on Tuesday ahead of a ceasefire deadline on Thursday.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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