Army defectors are joining the Free Syrian Army, which is resulting in bloody battles in various area [Al Jazeera]

At least 25 people have died in fierce fighting between Syrian security forces and army rebels in northern Syria as violence intensified in the eighth month of unrest against President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Opposition groups on Saturday said rebel forces are increasing their attacks on security forces loyal to the government, which are trying to suppress the revolt against 41 years of Assad family rule.

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The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting broke out around midnight in the northern city of Idlib, near the Turkish border.

"Seven were killed from the army and regime security forces, including an army officer," the group said. "Three civilians and five defectors were also killed."

Violence was also reported from the central city of Homs and the southern Deraa province by mid-day, the human rights group said.

In Homs, a hotbed of armed revolt against the military crackdown on protests, two men were shot dead, one by a sniper, the organisation said.

'Systematic violations'

The group said security forces were also conducting raids in rural Deraa province, cradle of the anti-Assad movement. It said one civilian was killed and five were wounded during morning raids in the town of Tafas.

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Syria faces deepening international and regional isolation, with the Arab League, the European Union and the United States piling on increasingly tough sanctions to pressure Damascus to stop the bloodshed and talk to its opponents.
   
The United Nations' top human rights forum on Friday had condemned Syria for "gross and systematic" violations by its forces, including executions and the imprisonment of some 14,000 people.

Syria condemned the UN vote on human rights violations by the country's security forces as "unjust," and said it was based on false information from the regime's foes.

The UN Human Rights Council resolution passed in a vote on Friday was "unjust" and "prepared in advance by parties hostile to Syria," the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.

Syrian authorities say they are fighting foreign-backed "terrorist groups" trying to spark civil war who have killed some 1,100 soldiers and police since March.

More than 4,000 people have died since protests broke out in March, according to the United Nations, which says the violence in Syria looks like civil war.

Source: Agencies