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Syria - Mar 27, 2012 - 22:21

Last modified: 27 Mar 2012 19:21

At least 31 people were killed on Tuesday across Syria in clashes between regime forces and rebel troops, including near the border with Lebanon, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said.

The Britain-based group said 18 of those killed were civilians, 13 of whom died in the central province of Homs, a rebel stronghold that has been pounded by regime forces for weeks, sending residents fleeing and leaving scores dead.

A total of 13 regular soldiers died on Tuesday in clashes with rebels in Homs and in the northwest Idlib province, the Observatory said. 

The fighting in Idlib centred on Saraqeb, where there were unconfirmed reports that 21 local residents detained by regime forces had been killed, it  said.

Most of Saraqeb's residents have fled the town in recent days in the face of a fierce assault by regime troops seeking to stamp out insurgents in the area.

"Armed rebels have withdrawn from the town after attacking two security posts," the Observatory said.

In Damascus province, heavy gunfire was reported in fields between the capital's Qadam neighbourhood and the town of Daraya, the Observatory said.

One woman was killed early Tuesday by a stray bullet in the Damascus suburb of Douma and two other women died in Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province. 

The Observatory also reported one man killed in intense clashes near the central town of Qusayr, near the border with Lebanon, and another civilian killed elsewhere in the country. 

Officials said the clashes spilled over into Lebanon as Syrian troops chasing rebels made a brief incursion into a sparsely populated area of Lebanon's eastern Bekaa region.

The border between both countries is poorly demarcated and residents on both sides travel freely across on a regular basis.

Syrian troops have made several brief incursions into Lebanon since the outbreak of the revolt against the regime of Bashar al-Assad a year ago.

A spokesman for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Ahmed Moussa, told AFP that 75 families had crossed into the eastern Bekaa on Monday.