The United Nations has raised its tally of people killed during seven months of unrest in Syria to more than 2,900 – an increase of 200 people since the beginning of September.
Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Thursday that the figure was based on “reliable sources” inside and outside the country.
He also said that the names of the dead had all been confirmed and likely included some members of the security forces.
Twelve people were killed in clashes between soldiers and deserters in villages of Idlib province in northwest Syria on Thursday, a human rights group said.
“Seven soldiers and five deserters were killed in the clashes in villages west of Jabal al-Zawiya,” the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that dozens were wounded.
Similar clashes earlier in the week between Syrian troops and deserters – who defected after refusing to fire on anti-government protesters – left four people dead near the Turkish border, rights activists said.
An army officer who has taken refuge in Turkey, Colonel Riad al-Asaad, claims to have established an opposition armed force called the “Syrian Free Army”, but its strength and numbers are unknown.