More Syrians defect as friction mounts in SNC

More Syrians defect as friction mounts in SNC

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
More Syrians defect as friction mounts in SNC

A member of the Free Syrian Army holds up a child as he protests against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Idlib. REUTERS photo

The defections of high-ranking Syrian army officers continued March 9, as friction builds within the opposition movement known as the Syrian National Council, according to a Syrian dissident.

There were conflicting reports as to the number of Syrian generals that have defected and are now in Turkey. Reyhanlı district governor Yusuf Güler said two Syrian generals and a colonel had defected, while another report from the Anatolia news agency claimed four generals defected to Turkey on March 9.

The reports of the defections came as a prominent member of the Syrian National Council, who wished to remain anonymous, said there was friction within the movement because almost every new defector wanted to play an important role.

“There are internal divisions within the opposition. The main problem is that it is growing so fast every day. We started with 80 people, now we have 340 people, and every high-ranking official defecting from the Syrian regime wants to have a big role,” a member told the Daily News.

Numbers dramatically increased
The member also said the leader of the group, Burhan Ghalioun, had been fiercely criticized by some. “Those groups favoring a military solution particularly criticize him,” the dissident said.

Meanwhile, as Syrian forces appear to be targeting more rebellious areas, including the northern province of Idlib near the Turkish border, 234 Syrians, including high-ranking army officials, have crossed into Turkey since March 8, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Güler said the number of Syrians fleeing into Turkey had increased dramatically lately.

Al-Assad’s regime has suffered a steady stream of army defectors, who have joined a group of dissidents known as the Free Syrian Army, now numbering in the thousands.

On March 8, Syria’s Deputy Oil Minister Abdo Husameddine, 58, became the highest-ranking civilian official to join the opposition and urged his countrymen to “abandon this sinking ship,” as the nation spirals toward civil war. Husameddine announced in a video that he had defected from President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Some 12,000 Syrians now live in six refugee camps in Turkey.