AMMAN (Reuters) - Around seventy Syrian rebels have fled from an opposition held suburb south of the Syrian capital and surrendered with their light arms to the Syrian army, a monitoring group and an army source said on Wednesday.
The head of the Anfal brigade took advantage of rebel infighting to slip with some of his fighters over lines in the south west of the capital, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The incident occurred four days ago.
A Syrian army source said the defection was a sign insurgents who are battling to overthrow President Bashar al Assad’s government were losing ground.
“It’s now very clear the army has begun advancing much more and there are some (insurgents) who are not able to flee outside Syria and are thinking of reaching a settlement (with the army),” the source told Reuters.
The authorities say thousands of insurgents have surrendered to over the last year under an amnesty offer. Some rebels have switched sides and joined government-allied militias and others have given up fighting altogether.
The Anfal group, which has several hundred fighters, had been fighting in recent months against Syria’s al Qaeda branch Al Nusra and other factions mainly in south western suburbs of Damascus, according to the Observatory that tracks violence across the country.
Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Additional reporting by Laila Bassam in Beirut; editing by Ralph Boulton