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article imageMore defections amid increased clashes in Syria

By Ken Hanly     Jul 21, 2012 in World
Damascus - This article traces some recent developments in Syria including new defections. Syrian citizens are fleeing even from Damascus. Israel is readying for a possible invasion of Syria.
A Turkish official told Reuters that two brigadier-generals were part of a group of ten including many other military officers who fled to Turkey last night (July 20). Twenty four Syrian generals have now taken refuge in Turkey.
The Syrian army and the government are suffering serious losses at the top including several government ministers killed in a recent attack as reported in Digital Journal. Some defections are no doubt Sunni military officials who are no longer willing to slaughter Sunni citizens.
More Syrians are fleeing the country as the violence ramps up. Even Damascus now is the scene of fighting between rebels and the armed forces. More than 43,000 Syrian refugees are registered in Turkey. The rebels hold some border crossings at least temporarily. However the Assad forces have made gains in Damascus.
Syrian troops were able to retake the Midan neighborhood after heavy fighting. The area had been taken earlier in the week by rebels. No doubt the rebels wanted to show that they could take the battle to the capital which except for some terrorist attacks has been relatively quiet. The rebels claim to have made a tactical retreat. However other areas are still being contested. In a sign that even in Damascus people fear the future, many thousands are fleeing the city.
In a separate development there are reports that Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak ordered the Israeli military to be prepared for an invasion of Syria. The goal would be to seize weapons from the Syrian military.
Barak justified the move by saying that it was possible Syria might transfer "anti-aircraft missiles" or even chemical weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. There are some rumors that Syria was trying to ditch some weapons that were of little use but that had to be protected from being looted. However, given that NATO is anxious for regime change and perhaps even military involvement from the air, the Assad regime is unlikely to give up anti-aircraft weapons.
While the Assad government has been weakened by defections, the conflict may be far from over. Should Israel intervene the conflict could spread into Lebanon at the very least.
More about Syria, Syrian civil war, president bashar al assad
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