Syrian General, 20 Soldiers Defect

A brigadier general and about 20 soldiers defected from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Army in two separate incidents on Saturday, a sign that the Army has seriously weakened in the two-year civil war. “It is not possible for anyone to accept any of the ideas of this regime unless they have achieved special interests,” said Brig. Gen. Mohammed Khalouf in a videotaped statement broadcast on Al Arabiya. There was no comment from Syrian state television. A study by the Institute for Strategic Studies found that Assad’s Army could have diminished to 50,000 people from an estimated 300,000 before the crackdown began. An estimated 70,000 civilians have died in the bloody civil war.