Syrian government troops are abandoning the regime and switching sides to join rebel forces in the wake of heavy fighting in the capital Damascus, according to unconfirmed reports.

According to activist group the Local coordination Committees in Syria, 60 soldiers have defected, handing over their equipment in Homs.

On Twitter, users claiming to have real time information of the battle have claimed that 500 troops defected near President Bashar al-Assad's palace, while another user has claimed an official with control of 120 tanks has also switched sides.