Syrian soldiers fought gunmen suspected to be army defectors in the flashpoint central province of Homs on Monday in clashes that left five troops dead, a human rights group said.
"Five soldiers were killed and others wounded as a result of clashes pitting the army and security forces against gunmen believed to be defectors at a checkpoint near the town of Qurayn in Homs province," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP.
Signup to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
About "20 soldiers fled to the surrounding orchards" while "17 in the army's ranks" were wounded as a result of the clashes," the Britain-based watchdog said.
The clashes came a day after security forces in Homs killed eight civilians, according to the Observatory's latest toll, while clashes with presumed defectors left four soldiers dead.
The fresh wave of violence came as UN chief urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the killings of civilians immediately and to accept an international investigation into human rights violations.