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Reports: At least 11 Syrian citizens, 3 government forces killed in unrest

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:35 AM EDT, Fri October 7, 2011
Syrian regime supporters carry pictures of President Bashar al-Assad during a protest in Beirut on 2 October.
Syrian regime supporters carry pictures of President Bashar al-Assad during a protest in Beirut on 2 October.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An opposition group reports eight civilians killed in Hama, two in Homs and a child in al-Rastan
  • State news claims three government forces and one civilian worker are killed
  • A U.N. office raises its official death toll from the months-long unrest to over 2,900

(CNN) -- The death toll continued to ratchet up Thursday in Syria, with an opposition group reporting 11 citizens killed and the U.N. estimating more than 2,900 people have died since the unrest began in March.

Local Coordinating Committees of Syria, an opposition group that tracks fatalities daily by conversing with activists on the ground, claimed eight citizens had died in Hama and two in Homs at the hands of security forces. In addition, the group stated that a child from al-Rastan was also killed.

Meanwhile, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported Thursday that an "armed terrorist group" killed two law enforcement personnel and a civilian outside Homs while an army lieutenant died while hunting down an alleged kidnapped near Hama.

Such violence is nothing new in Syria, where demonstrators have been confronted by government forces since demanding true democratic elections and the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. The Middle Eastern government claims its security forces are battling terrorists who are intent on targeting civilians and fomenting unrest.

The U.N. human rights office on Thursday increased its estimated death toll for the conflict to over 2,900. Most of those were civilians, explained spokesman Rupert Colville, though some Syrian soldiers may also be on the list.

The figure is derived from "sources we have known for years," said Colville, adding that "a certain amount of information" including a name must be provided before a fatality officially can be counted. He conceded that compiling the list is difficult due to a lack of transparency and restrictions in visiting scenes of reported killings.

"There are a lot more people reported disappeared and not accounted for who didn't turn up on the (U.N.) list," Colville said.

CNN itself has been unable to independently confirm death tolls or events in Syria, which has restricted access to many parts of the country by international journalists.

In addition to the citizens' fatalities, the LCC reported numerous hot spots and incidents around Syria on Thursday.

They included a report that security forces outside Banyas shot to break up a demonstration in which protesters were calling for al-Assad to be prosecuted.

In Homs, the group claimed that Hala Tadmuri, 40, and her 17-year-old daughter, Ola Tadmuri, were kidnapped near a cemetery. Two men were reported detained in the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya.

And an Army officer and "multiple soldiers" were killed, while more than 30 were wounded, during a defection in Kafr Nubbul, which is in Idlb province, according to the LCC.

There was no immediate mention of that attack in official Syrian news. Yet SANA -- citing an "informed source" -- did claim Thursday that two Syrian army lieutenants and a civilian worker were shot dead while returning home. A medical source told the agency that two of the bodies had gunshot wounds and signs of torture.

In addition, a provincial official told SANA that another army lieutenant died while on a mission to rescue a kidnapped worker. That worker was eventually freed, it said.

All this bloodshed comes as the international community continues to grapple with how to handle the situation in Syria.

Earlier this week, Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft resolution condemning Syrian authorities for their violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrators. Those two nations argued that even in its watered-down form without economic sanctions, it was a slippery slope to military intervention, a la the NATO operation to protect anti-government protesters in Libya.

Some countries are taking their own steps to pressure al-Assad. After the U.N. vote, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government is preparing its sanctions on Syria, while the European Union and United States have already instituted like-minded actions.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed disappointment Wednesday over the resolution's defeat. He called the level of violence in Syria "unacceptable" and said it "can't go on like this," according to a U.N. spokesman.

CNN's Ben Brumfield contributed to this report.

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