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SYRIA

Syrian army targets restive town after defections

1 min

Witnesses say Syrian security forces have launched an assault on the town of Rastan, north of Homs, after the defection of numerous soldiers from the area, which is traditionally a source of recruits for the Syrian army.

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REUTERS - An armoured Syrian force surrounded a town north of Homs on Monday after the defection of tens of soldiers from the area, activists and residents said, in the latest operation to counter dissent within the military during a five month uprising.

At least 40 light tanks and armoured vehicles, and 20 buses full of troops and Military Intelligence, deployed at 5:30 a.m. at the highway entrance of Rastan, 20 km (12 miles) north of the city of Homs and began firing heavy machineguns at the town.

Rastan is traditionally a reservoir of recruits for the mostly Sunni rank-and-file army dominated by officers from Syria's Alawite minority sect, the same sect as President Bashar al-Assad.
 

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