BEIRUT Dec 26 The head of Syria's military
police has defected from the army and declared allegiance to the
uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to a video
and a Syrian security source.
The high-level defection, while not a strategically
significant development in the 21-month-old conflict, will be a
blow to morale for Assad's forces, which are hitting back at a
string of rebel advances across the country.
"I am General Abdelaziz Jassim al-Shalal, 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
officer said in a video published on YouTube.
A Syrian security source confirmed the defection but played
down its significance.
"Shalal did defect but he was due to retire in a month and
he only defected to play hero," the source said.
Wearing a camouflage uniform with red officer insignia on
the shoulder, Shalal spoke from a desk in a room in an
undisclosed location. Some rebel sources said he had fled to
Turkey. It was not clear when Shalal had changed sides.
"The army has destroyed cities and villages and has
committed massacres against an unarmed population that took to
the streets to demand freedom," he said. "Long live free Syria."