HIGH-RANKING SYRIAN GENERAL DEFECTS FROM ARMY

Washington Times on March 16, 2013, published an AP report on a high-ranking general in the Syrian army saying he has defected with the help of rebel fighters. Excerpts below:

Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ezz al-Din Khalouf said in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV that he had left the regime and that morale inside the armed forces was bad.

Activist videos posted online show Khalouf sitting with a rebel fighter after his defection and riding in a car to what the video said was the Jordanian border.

While widespread defections from the Syrian army have sapped it of much of its manpower during the two-year-old anti-Assad uprising, high-level defections have been rare.

The U.N. says more than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

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