TribLIVE

| USWorld

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Syrian general defects

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Saturday, March 16, 2013, 9:12 p.m.
 

One of the highest-ranking military officers yet to abandon Syrian President Bashar Assad defected to neighboring Jordan and said in an interview aired on Saturday that morale among those still inside the regime has collapsed.

In another setback for the Assad regime, a leading human rights group accused Syria's government of stepping up its use of widely banned cluster munitions, which often kill and wound civilians.

The twin blows illustrated the slowly spreading cracks appearing in Assad's regime as well as its deepening international isolation. While few analysts expect the civil war between Assad's forces and rebels seeking his ouster to end soon, most say it appears impossible for the 4-decade-old regime to continue to rule Syria.

Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ezz al-Din Khalouf announced his defection from Assad's regime in a video aired on Saturday on the Al-Arabiya satellite channel. It showed him sitting next to his son, Capt. Ezz al-Din Khalouf, who defected with him.

The elder Khalouf said that many of those with Assad's regime have lost faith in it, yet continue to do their jobs, allowing Assad to demonstrate broad support.

“It's not an issue of belief or practicing one's role,” he said. “It's for appearance's sake, for the regime to present an image to the international community that it pulls together all parts of Syrian society under this regime.”

Khalouf also said fighters from the Lebanese military group Hezbollah were fighting in Syria in “more than one place,” but he did not give further details.

The Syrian government did not immediately comment on the defection. It portrays the uprising as a foreign-backed conspiracy to weaken Syria being carried out by terrorists on the ground.

Seif al-Hourani, an activist from one of the rebel groups that helped get Khalouf and his family out of the country, said via Skype that Khalouf's son made contact with rebels about six months ago and leaked them information before he asked for help in getting the family out of Syria.

That process took almost a week because of violence in the southern province of Daraa, the easiest place to shuttle Khalouf across the border.

Six days ago, rebels smuggled Khalouf, his wife and three of their children out of Damascus, the capital.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read World

  1. Comets hold life building blocks
  2. Al-Qaida group in Syria targeted by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes
  3. Firebombing kills Palestinian toddler, wounds family; Jewish settlers blamed
  4. ISIS suspected in abduction of Indian citizens in Libya
  5. Senate to grill United Nations agency chief Amano on Iran nuclear pact
  6. Israelis remember how summer conflict affected beach ritual
  7. Debris on French island possibly that of missing Malaysia Airlines flight
  8. Exiled Yemen leader orders anti-rebel fighters to merge with army to battle Houthis
  9. Extremist strikes again in attack on gay parade in Jerusalem
  10. India hangs man who raised funds in support of 1993’s deadly Mumbai bombings
  11. China says U.S. trying to militarize South China Sea