Several high-level Syrian military officials defected to Jordan late Wednesday night, Syrian opposition activists said.
The defections included at least one general and four colonels, Al Arabiya reported Thursday morning. The activists said a “large number” of people had defected, but didn’t say how many.
The defections are the latest in a wave of high-level officials abandoning Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been battling rebels seeking to oust him from power for the last 17 months.
The country has seen hundreds of thousands of refugees flowing into neighboring countries, mainly Turkey and Jordan.
The rebels also reported heavy fighting near the border with Jordan.
Much of the fighting has shifted to the northern town of Aleppo, Syria’s largest, though battles are still waging in the capital Damascus and have returned to the southern town of Daraa, where the uprising began in March 2011.
On Wednesday, Syrian regime forces shelled two central Damascus districts before troops backed by tanks swept through to carry out house-to-house raids, killing at least 35 suspected rebels, in a major flare-up of fighting in the Syrian capital, activists said.
In a particularly hard-hit northern district, activists said they discovered dozens of bodies that appeared to have been shot execution-style. Such gruesome reports have become increasingly common in recent months as the civil war has taken on heavy sectarian undertones.