Deserters killed eight soldiers and members of the security forces and wounded 40 more in an attack in Idlib in north-west Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“A group of deserters attacked a squad of soldiers and security agents in a convoy of seven vehicles, including three all-terrain vehicles, on the road from Ghadka to Maaret Numan,” the Britain-based watchdog said.
“Eight were killed and at least 40 more were wounded. The deserters were able to withdraw without suffering any casualties.”
The rebel Free Syrian Army said in a statement it was behind the attack.
Elsewhere, 16 civilians, including two children aged nine and 10, were shot dead by security forces – 15 in Homs and Qusayr in central Syria and another in Deir Ezzor in the east, the Observatory said.
It added that the bodies of three men arrested several days ago in Homs and Idlib were returned to their families.
The Observatory said at least 10 members of the security forces were killed in clashes with mutinous soldiers in Deir Ezzor on Friday.
The same day, the Syrian military confirmed that six elite pilots and four others were killed in an attack on Thursday, and accused foreign powers of supporting acts of terror inside the country.
“An armed terrorist gang murdered six pilots, an officer and three junior officers working for the military air base” on Thursday, the army said in a statement quoted by the state news agency SANA.
Thursday’s attack was also claimed by the Free Syrian Army which said seven military pilots were killed in an ambush on a bus.
The latest violence came as Arab finance ministers gathered in Cairo to draw up a package of crippling sanctions against Syria after Assad’s regime ignored a Friday deadline to accept an observers’ mission to monitor the violence.