SYRIAN SOLDIERS DEFECT TO LEBANON

BBC News reports on July 17, 2011, that Syrians have poured over the Lebanese border near Tal Kalakh in recent days.

Lebanon has detained at least two Syrian soldiers who crossed its border to escape clashes between security forces and protesters, activists say.

The soldiers reportedly fled after opening fire on pro-regime militiamen attacking civilians near a border checkpoint they were manning. A third soldier is said to have been killed.

Activists have appealed to the Lebanese army not to hand the soldiers back.

There has so far been no comment from the Lebanese or Syrian authorities.

Syrian civilians who have poured over the Lebanese border in recent days say security forces have surrounded the western town of Tal Kalakh and the nearby village of Arida, and launched a brutal crackdown.

At least 16 people have been killed and scores arrested, activists say.

“They destroyed the houses, they cut electricity and water. The wounded are dying in our hands and the dead are strewn on the streets,” a Tal Kalakh resident told the Reuters news agency by telephone.

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