News / Middle East

    Top Syrian Official Defects

    General Abdelaziz Jassim al-Shalal, the head of Syria's military police, speaks in a video uploaded on a social media website, December 26, 2012.
    General Abdelaziz Jassim al-Shalal, the head of Syria's military police, speaks in a video uploaded on a social media website, December 26, 2012.
    VOA News
    A top Syrian military official who headed the feared military police has told a pan-Arab TV station that he defected and joined Syria's opposition movement.

    A video published on a social media website on Wednesday shows the general, Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, saying that he left the government because the Syrian military police have strayed from their primary mission.

    "In the name of God E., I am General Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, head of the military police.  I have defected because of the deviation of the army from its primary duty of protecting the country and its transformation into gangs of killing and destruction, the destruction of cities and villages and committing massacres against our unarmed people who went out to demand liberty," he explained. "Long live Syria free and strong."

    High-Profile Defectors from Syria

    • Prime Minister Riad Hijab defected to Jordan on August 6, two months after taking top post.
    • Nawaf Fares, Syria's ambassador to Iraq became first Syrian envoy to defect on July 11, 2012.
    • Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, highest ranking military officer to abandon Syrian government on July 6, 2012.
    • Colonel Hassan Hammadeh flew his MiG-21 warplane to neighboring Jordan during a June, 2012, training mission and was granted asylum.
    • Imad Ghalioun, member of Syria’s parliament, left country in January, 2012, to join opposition.
    • Adnan Bakkour, former attorney general of Hama, appeared in video in late August 2011 announcing he had defected.
    Al-Shallal is one of dozens of generals who have defected since Syria's crisis began 22 months ago. He is one of the most senior to flee since Manaf Tlass, a Syrian general and a member of the ruling inner circle, defected in July.

    The defection comes amid continued diplomacy to end the Syrian crisis.

    Peace overtures

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reportedly sent a senior diplomat to ally Moscow on Wednesday to discuss proposals made by peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, right, meets with UN Arab League deputy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus, Syria, Dec. 24, 2012.In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, right, meets with UN Arab League deputy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus, Syria, Dec. 24, 2012.
    x
    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, right, meets with UN Arab League deputy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus, Syria, Dec. 24, 2012.
    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, right, meets with UN Arab League deputy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus, Syria, Dec. 24, 2012.
    Brahimi, who met with Assad on Monday, is expected to arrive in Moscow on Saturday for further talks with Russian leaders. Russian envoys are reportedly trying to broker a peaceful  transition of power in Syria.

    Opposition leaders and Western supporters are demanding Assad leave office without conditions. 

    Renewed violence

    Meanwhile, Syrian opposition activists say government shelling in a northern province near the Turkish border has left at least 20 people dead, including eight children.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released a video on Wednesday showing what it said were victims of a government assault on a village in the Raqqa region.

    It was not immediately clear when the assault took place. In recent weeks, violence has escalated in the region.

    There was no immediate confirmation from the government, which has blamed much of the violence from almost two years of anti-government unrest on terrorists and armed gangs.

    Rebel advances

    On Tuesday, Syrian rights activists said rebels had captured a northern town near the border with Turkey, driving out government troops after a siege that lasted several weeks.

    The activists said the rebels seized the last military base in the Idlib provincial town of Harem early Tuesday, extending rebel control over northern areas adjacent to Turkey.  

    • A child uses a megaphone to lead others in chanting Free Syrian Army slogans during a demonstration in Bustan Al-Qasr, Aleppo, Syria, January 4, 2013.
    • Demonstrators step on a picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad during a protest against his regime in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district, January 4, 2013.
    • Damaged buildings and shops with members of the Syrian army patrolling in the distance in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013.
    • Men stand amidst wreckage and debris after a car bomb exploded at a crowded gas station in Barzeh al-Balad district in Damascus, in this handout photograph released by SANA on January 3, 2013.
    • A father reacts after the death of two of his children whom activists said were killed by shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in al-Ansari, Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters stand near a fire after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, al-Ansari, Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013.
    • Residents wear masks as they search for bodies after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, al-Ansari, Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013
    • Members of the Free Syrian Army stand behind a machine gun turret with a flag reading "There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger" in Aleppo's Bustan Al Qaser district, Syria, January 2, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter asks a child to move away from his house's window as a security measure in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district December 30, 2012.
    • A boy watches men dig graves for future casualties of Syria's civil conflict at Sheikh Saeed cemetery in Azaz city, December 30, 2012.

    You May Like

    Multimedia US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    December 27, 2012 6:49 PM
    This guy is the epitome of traitor.

    by: Brian
    December 27, 2012 12:40 AM
    Anyone defecting now is probably trying to save their self and just want to be on the winning team.

    by: Leo from: US
    December 26, 2012 11:03 PM
    "In the name of God E." ? What is the E for? Some sort of code?

    by: HPB from: Florida
    December 26, 2012 10:23 PM
    Assad will, it seems, eventually fall. But we have no evidence that a humane government will replace him. I just hope the US stays out of this and all rebellions around the world.....since WWII our wars have brought sadness and death to our precious young men, wasted money, and time....look at Korea (a standoff war that was never declared over), Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan...politicians who enter into these wars, admit, about a decade after each war, that they were wrong to make these wars. Stay out of Pakistan too, USA. At most, use special ops., SEALS, drones, and the CIA, not thousands of our precious ordinary citizens. Thank you for hearing me out.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    December 28, 2012 4:31 PM
    War is a terrible thing, but I think Genocide is worse. Nowadays men and women can be less risked and wars can be won so fast and easier. Not to promote war but sometimes a quick one is needed to cease genocide and extinguish militant warlords. Otherwise years of genocide will kill even more people.

    by: don from: sw idaho
    December 26, 2012 8:47 PM
    he must be of Italian descent

    by: Anonymous
    December 26, 2012 7:44 PM
    why just this guys don't sit down and talk

    by: Sunny Enwerem
    December 26, 2012 4:05 PM
    Assad days are numbered in seconds.
    In Response

    by: Thooj ying from: Middle East
    December 27, 2012 12:00 AM
    Don't said like that now I am scare, excuse me i don't want die now.
    In Response

    by: Igor from: Russia
    December 26, 2012 10:56 PM
    The only way for Mr.Assad to avoid being murdered is to defect from his own government to join the rebels, which is a mixture of terrorists and extremists. and sing a song of "Democracy". Other wise, he will be only person to blame for anything. How irony it is!

    by: Anonymous
    December 26, 2012 11:23 AM
    Straight from the horses mouth. What he says, really is going on in Syria. The entire country should revolt and go after Bashar Al-Assad.
    In Response

    by: Assad from: Syria
    December 27, 2012 12:03 AM
    I don't want go to the Hell now,

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora