Syrian Army Guns Down Deserters
More than 70 reportedly gunned down in one province
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2011 7:24 AM CST
A member of the Free Syrian Army looks at the valley in the village of Ain al-Baida, in the Idlib province of Syria, not far from the Turkish border, on December 15, 2011.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Syria finally agreed to allow Arab League observers into the country yesterday, in a deal that is supposed to help usher in the end to the crackdown on anti-government protesters—but even as it did so, troops yesterday slaughtered army deserters who were attempting to leave their bases. More than 70 were gunned down in the country's northwest Idlib province, activist groups tell the BBC.

One defector told a human rights group that machine gun fire took down those trying to flee their military positions. All told, yesterday's death toll could top 110, a figure that, if true, would rank among the bloodiest to date. The Arab League says its observers will hit the ground in Syria on Thursday.