4 Syrian Troops Killed for Defecting: Activists

Posted September 26th, 2011 at 3:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Syrian activists say security forces shot dead four soldiers who tried to desert a military camp in the country's north.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Monday said the soldiers were killed in Idlib province, which borders Turkey.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sent troops across the country to quell an uprising by protesters. The U.N. says the government crackdown has killed at least 2,700 people since mass protests started in March.

Also Monday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem blamed armed groups for the situation in Syria while speaking in front of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Despite continued protests for change, Mouallem assured that the Assad government has guaranteed reforms for democratic practices.

He also lashed out at the U.S. and EU for imposing sanctions against Syria, accusing them of jeopardizing the interests and basic needs of Syrians while pronouncing concerns for their security and rights.

A U.S. State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, again called for the Syrian president to step down so that a democratic transition can take place. He said Mr. Assad is no longer the legitimate leader of that country because of his government's violent attacks on its own citizens.