Syrian state television has aired confessions of several men for attacking security forces, planting bombs and carrying out sabotage during the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, the SANA state news agency reported on Friday.

Assad says casualties in nine months of unrest in his country have mostly been borne by the security forces, targeted by foreign-backed armed terrorist gangs.

Anti-government activists say the estimated 4,600 deaths since March include three times as many unarmed civilians as members of the security forces. They say interrogators use torture to obtain confessions.

Hani Mahmoud Srour, a terrorist, confessed to his involvement in killings, targeting a security forces' patrol, and vandalizing public property in Deraa province, SANA's report said.

Tayseer Barmawi, Qaher Muhammad al-Masri and Adnan Issa al-Karrad confessed to involvement in carrying, storing and manufacturing explosive devices, while Diaa' Jamal al-Mikdad confessed to setting fire to the cultural centre in Bosra.

The United Nations' human rights council says Syria's government has carried out gross violations during a crackdown on protests against Assad's rule inspired by protest movements across the Arab world this year. Western countries, the Arab League and Turkey have imposed economic sanctions.

Defectors from the army and some activists have taken up arms in a Free Syrian Army to fight the government. They are believed to number several thousand.

(Reporting by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Peter Graff)