At least 21 people were killed across Syria on Thursday, as security forces raided homes and clashes erupted between soldiers and army defectors.
Human rights activists told The Associated Press that one of the victims was an eight-year-old girl who died in Homs. Six soldiers were killed as well, activists said.
The raids were conducted in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus, as well as in Deir el-Zour, Hama and Homs.
There were also reports of fighting between army defectors and soldiers near Deir el-Zour and near Maaret al-Numan, a town on the highway linking Damascus and the major city of Aleppo, AP reported.
At least 3,500 people have died in Syria since government crackdowns began in response to protests against the regime of President Bashar Assad, according to a United Nations statement published on Wednesday.
Last week, Syria reached an agreement with the Arab League Ministerial Committee to “stop all acts of violence from any source in protection of the Syrian citizens.” That agreement was quickly violated by Assad’s forces.
On Wednesday, a Syrian opposition group met with the head of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, to discuss the violence.
Also on Wednesday, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said that an increasing number of Syrian soldiers are defecting. She said this fact is raising the risk of a Libya-style civil war.
“Where basic human rights are trampled and peaceful demands for change met by brutal violence, people are eventually compelled to have recourse to rebellion against tyranny and oppression,” Pillay was quoted as having told the UN Security Council.