At least 20 died in heavy fighting in northwestern Syria Monday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Among the casualties were at least 18 Syrian Army soldiers, and two defectors who had joined the opposition.
Clashes were reported in the towns of Atareb, in the province of Aleppo, and Kafar Karmin, in the neighboring province of Idlib near the Turkish border.
Activists said a significant number of Syrian government armored vehicles were destroyed in the clashes, as well as vehicles carrying weapons.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Monday that an all-out civil war seems ever more likely as the five-week-old “truce” broke once again.
A spokesman for Ban said in a statement issued at a Chicago summit held Monday by NATO, “The secretary-general said we were at a pivotal moment in the search for a peaceful settlement in the crisis and that he remained extremely troubled about the risk of an all-out civil war.”
Meanwhile, Syrian Army defectors who had joined the opposition forces were ambushed and killed by government troops in a Damascus suburb on Monday as well.
Nine of the defectors were killed as they retreated from the village of Jisr al-Ab, near Douma. Five civilians were also killed, including two who died in a bombing raid in central Hama, one who was shot by unidentified gunmen in Homs, and two others who were caught in the crossfire between government troops and rebel forces in the coastal Banias.
On Sunday, at least 48 people were killed in the coutry, and a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) exploded near U.N. observers in Douma. Thus far, 260 of the U.N. Monitors are deployed around the country. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad continues to claim that outside forces and “terrorist gangs” are responsible for the majority of the killings.
More than 10,000 civilians have died since the violence began in March 2011 during the Arab Spring uprisings.