Syrian Brigadier General Defects To Turkey From Latakia

07/30/2012 04:50 am ET | Updated Sep 28, 2012

ANKARA, July 30 (Reuters) - The deputy police chief of Syria's western Latakia city, a brigadier-general, defected and fled to Turkey overnight with 11 other Syrian officers, a Turkish official said on Monday.

The police commander ranks as one of the most senior police officers to quit Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's security apparatus and joins scores of other military officers who have defected and are now in Turkey.

The Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not name the deputy police commander but said he came from Syria's Sunni Muslim majority.

The officer corps of Syria's security forces are mostly composed of members of Assad's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, which has dominated the power structure in the mostly Sunni country for the last five decades.

Alawites control the military through their domination of the officer corps and direct the Soviet-style intelligence and secret police apparatus entrusted with preventing dissent.

Sunni officers usually hold administrative posts and are closely watched by the mostly Alawite intelligence apparatus.

There are now more than 20 generals and scores of other officers sheltering in Turkey from where they direct rebel operations inside Syria with logistical help from their hosts.

Most of the higher-ranking officers live in a highly-guarded camp in Apaydin, in Turkey's Hatay province near the border.

Around 600 Syrians also crossed over into Turkey in the last 24 hours bringing the total number of Syrian refugees in Turkey to around 43,500, the official said. The flow of refugees into Turkey has not noticeably increased since Assad's army began an offensive in the northern city of Aleppo. (Reporting by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

09/09/2012 12:25 PM EDT

Syria Blasts Aleppo By Air

09/05/2012 7:50 AM EDT

Syrian City In Flames

08/25/2012 1:45 PM EDT

Lebanese Pilgrim Freed


Hussein Ali Omar, 60, one of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims that Syrian rebels have been holding for three months in Syria, hugs his mother, right, upon arrival at his house in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, 2012. Syrian rebels freed Omar on Saturday in a move aimed at easing cross-border tensions after a wave of abductions of Syrian citizens in Lebanon. The Shiite pilgrims were abducted May 22 after crossing into Syria from Turkey on their way to Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

08/24/2012 12:22 PM EDT

Daraya, Syria


This image made from video and released by Shaam News Network and accessed Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, purports to show the funeral of children in Daraya, near Damascus, Syria. Syrian troops backed by tanks and helicopters broke into a Damascus suburb on Thursday following two days of shelling and intense clashes as part of a widening offensive by President Bashar Assad's forces to seize control of parts of the capital and surrounding areas from rebel fighters, activists said. At least 15 people were killed in the offensive on Daraya, only a few miles (kilometers) southwest of Damascus. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network SNN via AP video)

08/24/2012 11:05 AM EDT

Lebanon Sees Heaviest Clashes In Months

Clashes between Assad supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime killed two people in Lebanon on Friday, the Associated Press reports. 17 people were injured.

The AP gives more context:

Syria was in virtual control of its smaller neighbor for many years, posting tens of thousands of troops in Lebanon, before withdrawing under pressure in 2005. Even without soldiers on the ground, Syria remains influential, and its civil war has stirred longstanding tensions that have lain under Lebanon's surface.

Read more on HuffPost World.

08/24/2012 11:02 AM EDT

Tripoli, Lebanon


A Sunni gunman fires a gun during clashes that erupted between pro and anti-Syrian regime gunmen in the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. The latest round of fighting first erupted on Monday in northern Lebanon and at least 15 have been killed in Tripoli this week and more than 100 have been wounded in fighting that is a spillover from Syria's civil war. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

08/24/2012 11:00 AM EDT

Refugee Numbers Soar

@ KenRoth :

UN reports 200,000 #Syria refugees, 30,000 in past week alone. Many more internally displaced not counted.

08/23/2012 2:00 PM EDT

Azaz, Syria


Syrian boy Musataf Alhafiz, 11, who fled his home with his family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, carries his brother Saif, 9 months, while he and others take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. Thousands of Syrians who have been displaced by the country's civil war are struggling to find safe shelter while shelling and airstrikes by government forces continue. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

08/23/2012 12:09 PM EDT

Heaviest Bombardment This Month

Helicopter gunships shelled Damascus on Wednesday as Syrian security forces intensified their assault on the capital. Activists report that at least 47 people were killed.

"The whole of Damascus is shaking with the sound of shelling," a woman in the neighborhood of Kfar Souseh told Reuters.

Read more on HuffPost World.

08/23/2012 10:56 AM EDT

Al Aan-Reporter Jenan Moussa Tweets:

@ jenanmoussa :

Graphic. We saw in a mosque in #Syria these 4 children staring at dead body. Pic by @HaraldDoornbos: #warsucks @akhbar

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