DAMASCUS – Twelve people were killed in clashes Saturday in the northern city of Latakia, presidential adviser Buthaina Shaaban told AFP on Sunday.

"The official death toll in Latakia Saturday is 10 people -- citizens and members of the security forces -- and two gunmen," Shaaban told AFP.

Syrian troops have entered the port city of Latakia, 350 kilometres (220 miles) northwest of the capital Damascus, a day after an official said two passers-by were killed by snipers.

Saturday's bloodshed was the latest in a spiral of violence that has gripped Syria since protests broke out on March 15, with demonstrators demanding major reforms.

The government has announced a string of reforms in a bid to appease the protesters, including the possibility of lifting emergency rule which has been in place since 1963.