Syrian General Whose Task Was Halting Defections Flees
Syria's government suffered an embarrassing new setback as the top general responsible for preventing defections within the military became a defector himself, making what insurgents described on Wednesday as a daring back-roads escape by motorcycle across the border into Turkey.
Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Jassem al-Shallal spoke of his defection in a video on Al Arabiya.
The defector, Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, the chief of the military police, was one of the highest-ranking military officers to abandon President Bashar al-Assad in the nearly two-year-old uprising against him.
His departure, first reported by Al Arabiya late on Tuesday evening and confirmed by opposition figures on Wednesday, came as a flurry of diplomatic activity suggested the possibility of movement toward a political solution to the Syrian crisis. A deputy Syrian foreign minister flew to Moscow for meetings with Kremlin officials, and the international envoy who met with Mr. Assad in Damascus earlier this week was planning to visit Moscow this weekend. Russia, one of Mr. Assad's most ardent foreign defenders, has in recent weeks suggested it was open to a negotiated transition that would ease him out of power.
Posted by: tipper 2012-12-27