Activists Say 20 Killed in Syrian Government Shelling

Posted December 26th, 2012 at 7:35 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian opposition activists say government shelling in a northern province near the Turkish border has left at least 20 people dead, including eight children.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released a video on Wednesday showing what it said were victims of a government assault on a village in the Raqqa region.

It was not immediately clear when assault took place. In recent weeks, violence has escalated in the region.

In a separate development Wednesday, another high level official in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government appears to have joined forces with the opposition.

A video published on a social media website appears to show the general who heads Syria's military police .

In the video, the man says he has “defected” because Syrian military police have strayed from their primary mission.

“In the name of God E., I am General Abdul Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, head of the military police. I have defected because of the deviation of the army from its primary duty of protecting the country and its transformation into gangs of killing and destruction, the destruction of cities and villages and committing massacres against our unarmed people who went out to demand liberty. Long live Syria free and strong.”

There was no immediate confirmation from the government, which has blamed much of the violence from almost two years of anti-government unrest on terrorists and armed gangs.

On Tuesday, Syrian rights activists said rebels had captured a northern town near the border with Turkey, driving out government troops after a siege that lasted several weeks.

The activists said the rebels seized the last military base in the Idlib provincial town of Harem early Tuesday, extending rebel control over northern areas adjacent to Turkey.