'Syrian army defector: I was ordered to commit genocide'

Hundreds of officers are sitting in jails for refusing to fire on civilians; 4,500 soldiers defected in Damascus, says Syrian lieutenant in interview.

Hama residents duck to avoid bullets from Syrian army 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hama residents duck to avoid bullets from Syrian army 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Ahmed Khalaf, a lieutenant in the Syrian army said that he was ordered to command his soldiers to shoot indiscriminately at everyone in Deraa, including women and children, London based Asharq Alawsat reported on Saturday.
"I, along with other officers, was ordered by our commanders to commit genocide in Deraa and was told not to spare women and children."
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In an interview with Asharq Alawsat, Khalaf claimed that he told his commander that he followed orders while secretly telling his soldiers not to fire on anyone. However, when he was found out and put under house arrest he understood that he had to flee the country.
Khalaf explained that hundreds of Sunni officers are sitting in jails around Syria for refusing to obey orders to fire on civilians, and claims that "4,500 soldiers have defected in the Damascus area."
Lieutenant Khalaf managed to escape from Syria is currently hiding in an undisclosed location.
Syrian security forces killed at least 18 protesters on Friday in attacks on tens of thousands of protesters who poured into the streets to demonstrate against the rule of President Bashar Assad on the first Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The four-month-old uprising has grown increasingly violent in recent days as tanks have launched an attack on the central city of Hama in an effort to quell pro-democracy protesters. An estimated 300 people have been killed since the military assault began on Sunday on the city of 700,000 people in central Syria.
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