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Syrian armed resistance emerges as crackdown continues

A group of defected soldiers have claimed to have inflicted heavy casualties on Syrian President Assad’s security forces, as an armed opposition to the regime has begun to emerge after months of peaceful protests.

The group, known as the “Free Syrian Army” claim to have destroyed 17 armoured vehicles on Wednesday as Syrian officials admitted seven of their troops died in an offensive against the defectors. Reports have also claimed that as many as 80 Syrian soldiers have been killed by the group.

See reports from The Associated Press here and the Financial Times here.

Many of the army defectors, estimated to number in the thousands, are thought to be soldiers who refused to fire on pro-democracy protestors.

Reports of an armed resistance first sprung up in May, just 2 months after pro-democracy protests first began in March.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the US understood the frustration of the Syrian people and reiterated calls do President Assad to step down.

"The great majority of the opposition members have shown extraordinary restraint in the face of the regime's brutality and are demanding their rights through peaceful, unarmed demonstrations.

The longer the regime continues to use repression, killing and jailing peaceful marchers and activists both, the more likely that the peaceful protest movement will become more violent."

A Syrian activist, who wished to remain anonymous told The Associated Press,

"The regime is killing the people and some residents are thinking that peaceful demonstrations will take them nowhere, even in 10 years from now."

Former US State Department official under the Obama administration Vali Nasr also said,

"The brutality of the regime has become enormous and there is increasing pressure on people to defend their families and their villages.

They clearly have won a moral argument against the government, but physically it doesn't protect them."

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