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Syria Red Crescent chief shot dead

The head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent branch in the northern town of Idlib has been shot dead, the International Committee of the Red Cross says.

Activists reported deadly clashes elsewhere between government forces and army defectors.

Abdulrazak Jbero was on his way by from Damascus to Idlib when he was shot, said Hicham Hassan, an ICRC spokesman. Officials were still gathering details of his death, including whether he was riding in a Red Crescent vehicle.

Syria's state-run media blamed "terrorists" for the killing.

President Bashar Assad's regime claims terrorists acting out a foreign conspiracy are behind the country's 10-month-old uprising, not protesters seeking change.

Government forces clashed with army defectors and stormed rebellious districts in central Syria, firing mortars and deploying snipers in violence that killed at least seven people, including a mother and her five-year-old child, activists said.

Pressure on Syria to end 10 months of bloodshed has so far produced few results. Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia have pulled out of the Arab League's observers mission, asking the UN Security Council to intervene.

While Syria has approved extension of the observers' presence for another month, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem signalled that the crackdown on protests will continue, insisting that Syria will solve its own problems.

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