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Senior Syrian military general defects to Turkey

June 26, 2012 - Damascus

A high-ranking military general in Syria has defected to Turkey after deserting a senior command in Damascus.

According to The Telegraph, the officer, who has promised to disclose his identity in the coming days, was accompanied by a colonel and almost 20 other soldiers.

While other generals have deserted the country, he is believed to be the most senior officer to have abandoned the regime.

The defection by the general provides further evidence that the military balance in the country is swinging against President Bashar al-Assad's Government, the report said.

Mustafa al-Sheikh, head of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) military council, said: "The general had travelled all the way from Damascus where he was 'responsible for a large ammunitions store'.

"The general was exhausted and the 'Free Syrian Army groups in Damascus helped him to escape the capital," Sheikh added.

Sheikh spoke inside Apaydin camp in Turkey's Hatay province, where the general is believed to have been taken.

The base, which is heavily guarded by the Turkish Army, has been set up specifically for defecting Syrian officers and their families.

The number of defections into Turkey is rising, with activists saying that lower-ranking officers desert on a near 'daily' basis.


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