Six senior officers, including a general and two colonels, have defected along with 30 other soldiers from Syria's army and arrived in Turkey. The report comes a day after three army pilots escaped to Jordan with their families, though unlike another air force colonel last week, they did not steal their own planes to to make it across the border.
The report from Turkish TV and Al Arabiya says the soldiers were part of a group of more than 200 Syrians who made their way across the border on Monday, bringing more bad news for Bashar al-Assad's regime. BBC Radio reported over the weekend that the government has effectively lost control of huge portions of the Syrian north and that rebels operate freely wherever the military does not have soldiers actually on the ground. However, the army still has greater firepower and the ability to devastate entire communities, leaving the potential for still more massacres as the fighting continues to escalate.
The military defections become more and more important for Assad's future as it appears that there will be no military response from Turkey, NATO or the European Union after Syria shot down a Turkish jet. If the attack on Turkey isn't enough to warrant Western intervention, it seems that the only way Assad's regime will fall is if it crumbles from the inside. More defections could weaken the military's leadership, undermine its ability to fight, and perhaps even cause top military commanders to lead their own coup. That may be nothing more than wishful thinking at this point, but obviously there are many in the armed forces that have grown tired of murdering their own people.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.