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.

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    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,

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