Last updated: 19 March, 2012

Two more Syrian generals defect, according to Turkish diplomat

Two more generals have fled Syria and linked up with rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus, a Turkish diplomat said on Monday.

The latest defections mean a total of nine generals have reportedly deserted since the revolt against Assad’s rule erupted a year ago, many of them seeking refuge in neighbouring Turkey.

In addition, around 500 more Syrians crossed into Turkey since Sunday, bringing the total number of refugees to 16,446, the same official added on condition of anonymity.

“The generals arrived Friday and nearly 500 other people, most of them women and children, have crossed over since yesterday”, the official told AFP.

Turkey, once a close ally of Syria, has been at the forefront of international criticism of the deadly crackdown on protestors and has become the main haven for opposition groups and rebel fighters.