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Syrian Army Defectors Kill 27 Soldiers as Armed Conflict Spreads

Syrian army defectors killed 27 members of President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces in an attack at dawn today, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The attack in the southern governorate of Daraa, where the nine-month uprising against Assad began, came after eight Syrian soldiers died in an ambush by deserters near Hama. At least 32 civilians were also killed yesterday. Human Rights Watch today accused Syrian military and intelligence officials of giving both “direct and standing orders to use lethal force.”

Syria’s repression of protests has led to defections from the army and an escalation of clashes in which both sides are armed. Assad has blamed the unrest on foreign provocateurs and the government has used tanks, armored vehicles and artillery to crush the uprising.

“The statements of soldiers and officers who defected from the Syrian military and intelligence agencies leave no doubt that the abuses were committed in pursuance of state policy and that they were directly ordered, authorized, or condoned at the highest levels of Syrian military and civilian leadership,” New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report published today. Read More

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