Assad's highest ranking military police officer defects Syrian regime and flees to TurkeyGen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal said army has become a 'gang for killing'The defection comes as military pressure builds on the regime from rebel assault
He appeared in a video on Al Arabiya TV saying he is joining 'the people’s revolution'
19:37 GMT, 26 December 2012
The man who heads Syria’s military police has joined the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime, Maj.
Gen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal’s defection makes him one of the most senior officials to switch side during the bloody 21-month conflict.
He appeared in a video on Al Arabiya TV saying he is joining 'the people’s revolution.'
In a video broadcast on Al Arabiya TV, Syrian Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal says he is defecting and joining 'the people's revolution'
Al-Shallal’s defection comes as military pressure builds on the regime, with government bases falling to rebel assault near the capital Damascus and elsewhere across the country.
The human cost remains high.
Today, it was claimed that government shelling in the north-east killed at least 20 people, including women and as many as eight children.
Al-Shallal said in the video that the 'army has derailed from its basic mission of protecting the people and it has become a gang for killing and destruction’.
Free Syrian Army fighters walk near damaged buildings in the Al-Khalidiya neighbourhood of Homs. Al-Shallal said in the video that the army has 'become a gang for killing and destruction'
Free Syrian Army fighters and residents carry the bodies of people killed by what activists said were missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad
He accused the military of ‘destroying cities and villages and committing massacres against our innocent people who came out to demand freedom’.
Thousands of Syrian soldiers have defected over the past 21 months and many of them are now fighting against government forces. Many have cited attacks on civilians as the reason they switched sides.
Syria’s crisis began with protests demanding reforms but later turned into a civil war. Anti-regime activists estimate more than 40,000 have died in the past 21 months.