DAMASCUS, Syria, May 23 (UPI) -- Syrian security forces raided the town of Sheikh Maskin in Dawa province Wednesday burning down at least half a dozen houses, residents said.
As many as 19 people were arrested as more than 21 buses filled with government forces entered the southern Syrian town, the Syrian Network for Human Rights reported.
In west central Syria, regime forces seized a neighborhood in the city of Hama, blocking residents from entering or exiting the area.
In Homs, fierce artillery shelling by Syrian government forces began during the early morning hours, residents said.
Five government soldiers who tried to defect were executed in rural Damascus, human rights officials said.
Earlier Wednesday, a strong explosion struck the al-Qanawat district of the capital of Damascus but there was no immediate report of deaths or injuries.
Syria's Air Force shelled rural areas near Damascus.
At least 25 people were killed in various cities around Syria Tuesday, many of them rebel soldiers, the Syrian Human Rights Network said.