Over 70 dead amid reports of defection of senior Syrian officers

Published March 9th, 2012 - 07:33 GMT

Syrian forces launched several attacks against rebel regions Friday killing nearly 70 civilians mostly in Idleb, according to activists .While repression showed no sign of respite a year after the start of the uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian opposition announced the defection of a dozen army officers, including six generals and four colonels.

Assad can still count on support from its ally Russia, which opposed a new draft resolution to the Security Council of the UN, before a meeting in Cairo of foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Taking advantage of the inability of the international community to speak with one voice on Syria, the Assad regime has sent forces to watch the highlights of the dispute, including Idleb (northwest), Homs (center) and Hama (center) in the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (OSDH).

In the bloodiest attack, 24 civilians were killed in Idleb, said opposition activists. While a large number of tanks were massed in the district of Jabal al-Zawiya of Idleb, the pro-democracy activists have expressed concern of a major operation like that in Baba Amr district of Homs. "The largest number of deserters (in Syria) are in Jabal al-Zawiya," said the head of Syrian Bservatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman.

In other areas of the rebel province of Homs, 16 civilians were killed, including 10 following the fall of shells and rockets and three in the dispersal of a demonstration against the regime. Four civilians were killed in Hama and one in Aleppo as a result of firing on the demonstrators, said the Observatory.

Like every Friday since 15 March 2011, tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets. Aleppo, where demonstrators chanted "Assad Get out!" or "Assad, your days are numbered, God curse your soul", has seen its largest mobilization in the past year, according to activists. 

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