High-ranking Syrian officer defects from military

March 6, 2012 19:51

BEIRUT - A high-ranking army officer announced his defection from Syria's military in a YouTube video on Tuesday and said he joined rebel forces in objection to shelling of his hometown in the crackdown on an 11-month revolt against President Bashar Assad's rule.

Adnan Qassem Farzat said in the video he felt compelled to desert the military because the intensified bombardment of rebel-held areas "are not the values of the Syrian army". The authenticity of the video could not be verified.

If confirmed, Farzat would be the second brigadier general to defect - the highest rank of officers to abandon Assad's forces, most of whom have remained loyal to the president, fighting what he says are foreign-backed terrorists. Brigadier general is the fifth-highest rank in the Syrian army.

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