Assad troops defect en masse, opposition says

Assad troops defect en masse, opposition says

Syrian Army forces reportedly abandon their posts and join the rebels following deaths of senior regime officials in Damascus attack

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Syrian opposition sources reported mass defections of Syrian Army soldiers on Wednesday in the wake of a series of bombings that killed top Assad ministers.

The Local Coordination Committees in Syria tweeted Wednesday afternoon that 60 soldiers defected in Homs and 50 special forces troops abandoned their posts in the Qaboun neighborhood of Damascus.

Additional defections were reported in the Syrian towns of Kafr Zita, Tayba, Sqeilbieh, Maroc, Kafr Naboodah, Salamieh, and Aqirbayat Station.

Alexander Page, an activist based in Damascus, reported that a Syrian army detachment also defected, bringing heavy weaponry with it.

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The Free Syrian Army claimed Wednesday that regime soldiers had withdrawn from the Midan neighborhood of Damascus, abandoning their armored personnel carriers on the side of the road. A video published on YouTube purported to show Free Syrian Army forces commandeering a vehicle belonging to the Syrian Army. Some reports said that members of President Bashar Assad’s brother Maher Assad’s elite 4th Division were among the defecting troops.

If reports of mass defections in the Syrian capital are true, they could tip the balance of power in Damascus in favor of the rebels.

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