Syrian Army shelling and gunfire killed at least 28 civilians in protest hubs on Saturday, including 17 in the flashpoint city of Daraa, while three soldiers died in clashes, a monitoring group said. Nine women and three children were among the 17 people killed in pre-dawn bombardment of a residential neighbourhood of the southern city of Daraa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Dozens more were wounded, some of them seriously, in the city which was the birthplace of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule that erupted in March 2011, the British-based watchdog said. Five people were killed in the bombardment of Khaldiyeh, while two others were shot dead in Qusayr, where clashes broke out, the watchdog said.

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