'15 killed' in Syria protests


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The Independent Online

At least 15 people have been killed across Syria, including an eight-year-old girl and six soldiers, activists say.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the girl was among several people killed today in Homs, which has become the epicentre of the uprising.

In some of the day's attacks, security forces opened fire as they conducted raids in search of dissidents. There also were reports of fighting between army defectors and soldiers.

The UN estimates some 3,500 people have been killed in the Syrian crackdown on dissent over the past eight months.

Though internationally isolated, President Bashar Assad appears to have a firm grip on power, retaining the loyalty of most of the armed forces, despite some defections.