Trouble for Assad? Hama Attorney-General Defects

Hama's attorney-general resigns over protest crackdown, marking the first high-profile defection in Syria since protest began.

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Elad Benari,

Hama Violence July 5
Hama Violence July 5
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The attorney-general of the Syrian city of Hama has resigned in protest of President Bashar Assad's crackdown on protesters, Reuters is reporting.

The attorney-general reportedly posted a YouTube a video on Wednesday in which he said, “I, Judge Adnan Mohammad al-Bakkour, Hama province Attorney-General, declare that I have resigned in protest of the savage regime’s practices against peaceful demonstrators.”

On Monday, the official state news agency had said Bakkour was kidnapped as he was traveling to work in a car on an agricultural road to the Justice Palace in Hama.

The agency claimed seven armed men in a Toyota pick-up truck intercepted Bakkour and kidnapped him with his driver and bodyguard as he was passing the village of Karnaz.

But in his video on Wednesday, Bakkour rejected those claims, saying, “What Syrian television is broadcasting about me being kidnapped by armed groups is totally false. I am in the protection of rebel inhabitants and in good health, today, Wednesday, 31 August. I will give live statements once I leave Syria soon.”

Reuters noted that if confirmed, Bakkour’s resignation would be the first high profile defection in the uprising against Assad.

In another video released earlier on Wednesday, Bakkour said he had resigned because security forces killed 72 imprisoned protesters and activists at Hama’s central jail on the eve of the a military assault on the city on July 31, which he said killed at least another 420 people, many of whom were buried in mass graves in public parks.

Bakkour has also named 13 Syrian intelligence and security police members in the Hama province as having “committed the massacres against peaceful civilians.”

One of those named is Interior Minister Mohammad al-Shaar, a former intelligence operative, who Bakkour said directed the recent ten-day offensive on Hama.

“This is the truth about what has happened and what is happening in Hama. Do not think God is ignoring the deeds of the oppressors,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, an Amnesty International report revealed that at least 88 people are believed to have died in detention in Syria during the bloody repression of the pro-reform protests.

The 88 deaths represented a significant escalation in the number of deaths following arrest in Syria. In recent years Amnesty International has typically recorded around five deaths in custody per year in Syria.