BEIRUT- Agence France-Presse
Hürriyet Daily News Photo, Selahattin Sönmez.
Rebels seized a Syrian village near the Turkish border after hours of fierce fighting today in which 25 troops and three insurgents were killed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Rebels took control of Khirbat al-Joz, near the village of Jisr al-Shughur, which lies in northwest Syria about two kilometres (just over a mile) from the border, according to Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
"After seizing the village, the rebels raised the revolutionary flag over a former army checkpoint in the area," Abdel Rahman told AFP.
The battle left at least 25 soldiers dead, while the rebels lost three men, including a commander who had defected from the army, the Britain-based watchdog said, adding that eight rebels and dozens of soldiers were wounded.
Abdel Rahman said fighting was continuing on the outskirts of the village, which is now a ghost town after most of its 4-6,000 inhabitants fled to safety in Turkey.
The Turkish army today returned fire after another mortar round from Syria landed about 50 metres inside Turkish territory near Guvecci village in the border province of Hatay, according to Turkish officials.
Guvecci sits just across the border from Khirbat al-Joz.
Nearly 80 percent of towns and villages along the Turkish border are outside the control of Damascus, according to the Observatory.
AFP correspondent have passed through large swathes of territory in the northern Idlib and Aleppo provinces that are outside government control, with residents managing their own affairs.