A young girl and six soldiers were among 12 Syrians killed on Thursday as security forces pressed a crackdown on protests and in clashes between troops and army deserters, a rights group said.
The girl, aged 8, as well as four other civilians were killed in the besieged city of Homs, a hotbed of dissent against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.
In addition, "security forces arrested three wounded people in a private hospital in the Al-Waer district" of Homs.
Several people were also arrested in Jassem, in the southern province of Daraa, the Britain-based Observatory said.
In the northwestern province of Idlib, near the Turkish border, "one civilian was killed during a sweep by security forces in Kafruma town."
Also in Idlib, "at least four soldiers in the regular army were killed at dawn in an attack, headed by armed men -- probably deserters -- on a military checkpoint in Has region, near Maaret al-Noman town," said the Observatory.
Signup to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
Early on Thursday, in Jabal al-Zawiya, local people began a general strike, responding to protesters there, while security forces tried to force them to open closed shops, said the same source.
In eastern Syria, two soldiers, one an officer, were killed and five soldiers were wounded in another attack on a military checkpoint, east of Deir Ezzor.
Another protest group, the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution, called for Thursday to be a "day of general strike in Syria to support Homs," where security forces have killed dozens of civilians in a few days.
In the Damascus area of Barze, a huge deployment of security forces moved in and arrested several people. The previous night six people were killed during an operation to crush protests.
"Hidden gunmen have been posted on high buildings in Barze where a major protest is underway," the Observatory said.
On Wednesday, efforts to crush anti-regime protests resulted in 16 new civilian deaths, the Observatory said.
According to the United Nations, more than 3,500 people have now been killed in Syria since protests against Assad began in March.