27 Dec 2012

Syrian military police general defects

8:30 am on 27 December 2012

The commander of Syria's military police has defected and joined the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Lt Gen Abulaziz al-Shalal is one of the highest-ranking officials to join the uprising against the Syrian regime.

After reportedly crossing the border into Turkey, General Shalal released a statement saying he had defected because the military had perpetrated massacres in towns and villages instead of protecting Syrians, the BBC reports.

The general said in a video statement that the army had turned into "gangs of murder and destruction."

An unnamed Syrian security source confirmed the army chief's defection but played down its significance, Reuters reports.

Gen Shalal was due to retire soon and joined the uprising to "play hero", the source is quoted as saying.