Clashes with opposition forces have resulted in the deaths of seven soldiers and policemen in the central Syrian town of Rastan, a military official says; yesterday, 14 protesters were killed in the fighting, a human rights activist tells Bloomberg. Some 32 soldiers were wounded as they tried to stop “gunmen” who, the official says, were terrorizing the town. At least 41 have died in recent days in Rastan, and with an estimated 3,600 civilians and 700 security force members dead under a six-month government clampdown, fears of civil war are growing.
Rastan is a center for army defectors, with some 2,000 in the area, another activist tells the AP; they’ve become a fighting force of sorts for protesters, says the Christian Science Monitor. European countries have presented the UN Security Council with the latest version of a resolution seeking possible sanctions if violence continues. Meanwhile, rallies that have been occurring every Friday since March have prompted heightened security in Damascus—and pro-government protesters have taken their toll on the US ambassador. (Read more Bashar al-Assad stories.)