The opposition claims that nearly 40,000 personnel have defected from the Syrian army since a wide mass uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad started in March 2011.
Government troops and tanks were Friday being deployed around areas on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus ahead of the planned anti-regime mass protests, activists based in northern Lebanon told dpa.
“The Syrian forces shelled early Friday areas near Reef Damascus, killing at least two people,” Ahmed Bilal, a Syrian activist said.
Meanwhile, anti-government activists have pitched a tent in the restive province of Homs and posted pictures of the French reporter, Gilles Jacquier, who was killed on Wednesday in a mortar attack in the province while covering a pro-regime rally.
“We held a candlelight vigil overnight for him. We believe Jacquier was killed by the pro-regime thugs,” Omar Homsi, a prominent Syrian activist, told dpa.
Syrian authorities said on Thursday they would probe the death of Jacquier, who worked for the France 2 TV network, as the opposition accused the government of “liquidating” him.
A team from France 2 has arrived in Syria to take the body of Jacquier to Paris, where he is to be buried.