BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian opposition groups say government shelling and firefights between troops and army defectors have killed at least 24 in a village in central Syria.
The Local Coordination Committees activist network said the violence took place Saturday in the village of al-Latamneh in the suburbs of the restive city of Hama.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the number of deaths at 27. It said most were killed by shells fired as troops tried to storm al-Latamneh following clashes with defectors there over the past two days.
Syrian forces have launched offensives across the country as a cease-fire deadline brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan nears.