Beirut: At least 31 people were killed across Syria on Sunday in a series of shootings, including fighting between gunmen believed to be Army deserters and troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, a Syrian activist group said on Monday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said about half the deaths were in the city of Homs, where it said seven civilians were shot dead and another eight people were later killed in clashes between Syrian troops and suspected deserters.
On Sunday, Syria threatened to retaliate against any country that formally recognises a recently established opposition National Council which is seeking international support for the six-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
The formation of the council has been welcomed by Assad`s Western critics, including the United States and France, however they have not embraced it diplomatically as they did the Libyan rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi.
"We will take tough measures against any state which recognises this illegitimate council," Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem told a news conference in Damascus.
Speaking alongside a group of Latin American ministers who visited Syria to show support for Assad, Moualem also dismissed Turkish criticism of Assad`s crackdown and said no one should think the West would launch military action against Syria.
"The West will not attack Syria because no one will pay the bill," he said. "The West chose economic sanctions to starve our people, under the pretext of protecting human rights."
The United Nations says 2,900 people have been killed in Assad`s crackdown on mainly peaceful protests. The Syrian leadership blames armed groups backed by foreign powers for the violence, saying 1,100 members of the security forces have been killed since the unrest broke out in March.