ALEPPO: Eleven Syrian soldiers were killed on Saturday in fighting and rebel attacks on checkpoints in Aleppo province, as shelling killed five members of the same family, monitors said.
The soldiers and five rebels were killed in fierce clashes in the Orm and Kaf Jum areas, near the border with Turkey, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. A woman also died in shelling as rebels attacked checkpoints in Abezmo.
"The state has no presence except for military and administrative posts" in the western region of the province in northern Syria, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP by telephone.
He said the regime was determined to prevent rebels linking up between western Aleppo and the neighboring province of Idlib as this would form an extensive insurgent region on the border with Turkey, which supports the revolt in Syria.
In shelling of several rebel-held district of Aleppo city, five members of the same family, including children, were killed in Maysar, said Abdel Rahman, whose Britain-based monitoring group relies on a network of activists on the ground.
The Old City of Aleppo, however, deserted of civilians but with a frontline running across it, was being spared air raids, an AFP correspondent in Syria's commercial capital said.
In the central city of Homs, where rebels remain entrenched in many areas, at least one soldier was killed in clashes near the Old City, while a civilian also died in Juret al-Shiyah district, the Observatory said.
Outside the city, four soldiers were killed in an attack on their vehicle and a man was killed elsewhere in the province, it said, adding that three rebels were killed in clashes in the flashpoint town of Rastan.
Elsewhere in the country, security forces carried out arrests and raids in the town of Hara in the southern province of Daraa while fighting broke out in the village of Dael.
"Every day, dozens of people have been arrested in Daraa," birthplace of the revolt since March 2011 against President Bashar Assad, Abdel Rahman said. "Some are released but we have no idea how many remain behind bars."
The Syrian Observatory gave an initial toll of at least 31 people killed nationwide on Saturday: 10 civilians, 12 soldiers and nine rebels. It reported a total of 142 people, including 88 civilians were killed in violence on Friday.