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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005, 21:54 GMT
Syria forces tackle 'terrorists'
At least five people have been injured in clashes between Syria's security forces and a "terrorist group", the official Sana news agency says.

The clashes came after security forces followed a group intending to commit terrorist acts in the northern city of Aleppo, the agency said.

Two "terrorists", two civilians and a security officer were injured and taken to hospital, Sana said.

It also said two militants were killed in an unreported clash last week.

That also took place in Aleppo, but was not reported at the time because of a continuing security operation, Sana said.

Opened fire

Sunday's incident occurred on the road leading to the airport in Aleppo, about 355km (220 miles) north of Damascus, residents told the Associated Press by telephone.

Earlier reports suggesting that the gunmen were killed appear to have been incorrect.

A reporter for the Arabic TV station al-Jazeera in Aleppo said he had been told that security forces stopped a stolen car, whereupon the occupants opened fire on them.

The car later caught fire as it was being towed away, he said.

The official reports did not specify which militant group was involved.

However the al-Jazeera reporter said the authorities had told him they were members of Jund al-Sham, a militant Islamist group Syria says is behind several recent clashes.

Previous clashes

There have been a number of violent incidents this year in which either Syrian forces or militants have died.

Syrian troops killed five Islamic militants in clashes in September in the central province of Hama, state media said.

In April, two alleged militants, a policeman and a passer-by were killed in an explosion, followed by a gunfight, in the capital, Damascus.

In May, the authorities launched a crackdown on Islamists with suspected ties to the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement, making dozens of arrests, according to human rights activists.

More were arrested in October.

Syria blames Jund al-Sham for some of the incidents.

Jund al-Sham means Soldiers of Syria and was reportedly formed in Afghanistan by Syrian, Palestinian and Jordanian militants with links to al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

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