'Syrian army defectors tell of rape, indiscriminate murder'

Army deserters claim Syrian soldiers "raped women in front of their husbands," said soldiers were ordered to shoot at unarmed civilians.

Syrians wait to enter Turkey 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Osman Orsal )
Syrians wait to enter Turkey 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Osman Orsal )
Syrian soldiers were told to fire indiscriminately at civilians and raped Syrian women in front of their husbands, reports emerged Sunday morning quoting army defectors who fled to Turkey.
Four soldiers told AFP of instances of rape and murder as Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces crack down on anti-regime demonstrations throughout the country forcing thousands of civilians to escape to Turkey.
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One soldier said the "cleansing" in Rastan in Homs caused him to defect. "We were told that people were armed there. But when we arrived, we saw that they were ordinary civilians. We were ordered to shoot them," he said.
"When we entered the houses, we opened fire on everyone, the young, the old... Women were raped in front of their husbands and children," he said, predicting that there were some 700 deaths, although this has not been verified.
Another soldier, Khalaf, told AFP that in a town near the Turkish border, "a professional soldier pulled out his knife and stabbed a civilian in the head, for no reason."
He said he decided to flee after he saw militiamen open fire on people. "When they started shooting people, I dropped my gun and fled," he said, claiming that around 25 people were killed in a demonstration last week.
Khalaf's brother, Ahmed said after witnessing violence in Homs, "I realized that the regime is prepared to massacre everyone." He said he and other soldiers considered revolting against the army forces, but were too fearful.
Ahmed added that "when the soldiers do not shoot, they shoot the soldiers down," claiming that the Assad regime has deployed snipers from the police or the Hezbollah militia.
A fourth soldier also told AFP that soldiers were shot when they tried to flee. Refusing to enter Homs last week, he said he chose to escape.
"I knew that if we entered the city, we should kill many people. We all took different ways [to run away]," he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the White House on Saturday accused the Syrian government of creating a humanitarian crisis and urged it to halt its crackdown on civilians and give the Red Cross immediate, unfettered access to the country's northern region.