Syrian rights activists say government security forces have killed at least three people in attacks on towns and villages in central and northern Syria, where protesters have called for the ouster of autocratic President Bashar al-Assad.
The activists say Syrian troops shot and killed two people Monday in the central province of Homs. They say government forces also fatally shot one person from the village of Ain al-Baida as he tried to flee across the Turkish border.
Earlier, activists said Syrian forces killed at least 14 people in raids across the country on Sunday in an ongoing crackdown on dissent. They said the troops were conducting a manhunt for one of the highest-ranking Syrian officials to defect to the opposition in a five-month-long pro-democracy uprising - Hama's provincial attorney-general, Adnan Bakkour.
Bakkour appeared in two Internet videos last week declaring his resignation in protest at killings of Hama residents by Assad loyalists. The Syrian government said he had been kidnapped by an armed gang that forced him to make the statement. Bakkour denied being kidnapped in one of the videos. His whereabouts are unknown.
Red Cross head meets with Assad
Syrian activists also say some soldiers defected to the opposition at the Mazzeh military airport in Damascus, a charge the government denies.
Meanwhile, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross met with Assad in the Syrian capital on Monday to press for access to people detained in the crackdown and urge the provision of medical care to the wounded. Jakob Kellenberger began his visit to Syria by holding talks with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in Damascus on Sunday.
The Reuters news agency reported on Monday that Red Cross representatives will be allowed to visit Syrian prisons.
The Syrian government blames violence in the country on what it calls armed gangs and terrorists backed by foreign conspirators.
The United Nations says more than 2,200 people have been killed in the Syrian government's crackdown since March, when protesters began calling for reforms and an end to Assad's 11-year rule.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.