Syrian soldiers have been shot by security forces after refusing to fire on protesters, witnesses said, as a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations intensified.
Witnesses told al-Jazeera and the BBC that some soldiers had refused to shoot after the army moved into Banias in the wake of intense protests on Friday.
Human rights monitors named Mourad Hejjo, a conscript from Madaya village, as one of those shot by security snipers. "His family and town are saying he refused to shoot at his people," said Wassim Tarif, a local human rights monitor.
Footage on YouTube shows an injured soldier saying he was shot in the back by security forces, while another video shows the funeral of Muhammad Awad Qunbar, who sources said was killed for refusing to fire on protesters. Signs of defections will be worrying to Syria's regime. State media reported a different version of events, claiming nine soldiers had been killed in an ambush by an armed group in Banias.
Activists said not all soldiers reported dead or injured were shot after refusing to fire. "We are investigating reports that some people have personal weapons and used them in self-defence," said Tarif.