ANKARA - Reuters
The deputy police chief of Syria's western Latakia city, a
brigadier-general, defected and fled to Turkey overnight with 11 other
Syrian officers, a Turkish official said today.
commander ranks as one of the most senior police officers to quit Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad's security apparatus and joins scores of
other military officers who have defected and are now in Turkey.
Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not name the
deputy police commander but said he came from Syria's Sunni
The officer corps of Syria's security forces are
mostly composed of members of Assad's Alawite sect, an offshoot of
Shi'ite Islam, which has dominated the power structure in the mostly
Sunni country for the last five decades.
Alawites control the
military through their domination of the officer corps and direct the
Soviet-style intelligence and secret police apparatus entrusted with
Sunni officers usually hold administrative posts and are closely watched by the mostly Alawite intelligence apparatus.
are now more than 20 generals and scores of other officers sheltering
in Turkey from where they direct rebel operations inside Syria with
logistical help from their hosts.
Most of the higher-ranking officers live in a highly-guarded camp in Apaydin, in Turkey's Hatay province near the border.
600 Syrians also crossed over into Turkey in the last 24 hours bringing
the total number of Syrian refugees in Turkey to around 43,500, the
official said. The flow of refugees into Turkey has not noticeably
increased since Assad's army began an offensive in the northern city of