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Syrian Intelligence Officer Defects as Fighting Intensifies

Senior Syrian officer reported to have defected. He was head of an intelligence organization responsible for monitoring dissent.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/6/2012, 6:34 AM

A Free Syrian Army fighter runs in Aleppo
A Free Syrian Army fighter runs in Aleppo
Reuters

A senior Syrian intelligence officer has defected to Jordan, Al Arabiya television reported on Sunday.

The report said Colonel Yarub Shara was head of the Damascus branch of Political Security, an intelligence organization responsible for monitoring and suppressing dissent. Jordanian officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.

The uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad has resulted in several defections of senior officials in his regime.

Before Shara’s reported defection, it was reported on July 16 that the head of Syrian intelligence had left the country and defected. His whereabouts are unknown.

The high-ranking Syrian officer was one of Assad's closest confidantes.

One of the most senior defectors from Assad's rule is Brigadier General Manaf Tlas, a Syrian general who was a leading member of Assad's inner circle.

Tlas, a member of the most powerful Sunni family in Syria, is the son of a long-serving former defense minister, Mustafa Tlas.

The latest defection came as Syrian army tanks shelled Aleppo and a helicopter gunship strafed rebel positions with heavy machinegun fire, Reuters reported.

The main focus of fighting in Aleppo has been the Salaheddine district, a gateway into the city of 2.5 million people.

Reuters reporters in the district said tanks pounded alleyways where rebels sought cover. One shell hit a building next to the Reuters reporting team, pouring rubble on to the street and sending billows of smoke and dust into the sky.

State television said Assad's forces were “cleansing the terrorist filth” from the country, which has been sucked into an increasingly sectarian conflict that has killed about 18,000 people.

Late on Sunday rebels clashed with the army in Aleppo's south-eastern Nayrab district, a fighter who called himself Abu Jumaa told Reuters. The army responded by shelling eastern districts. There were also clashes on the southern ring road, which could be a sign the army was preparing to surround the city.

As the fighting increases, a report Sunday said that an Islamic jihadist group, the Al Nusra Front, has taken responsibility for kidnapping and murdering a Syrian television news anchor.

The journalist, anchorman Mohammed al-Sa'eed, was abducted from his home in Damascus province on July 19, according to communiques posted by the group on jihadist forums.

The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group has been supplying the opposition forces with arms, according to a report in the London Telegraph. In addition, Arutz Sheva reported last week that the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy leader vowed that Syria will become an Islamic state after the presumed fall of Assad. The Islamist terrorist political party which won the elections in Egypt is now raising funds to arm Syrian rebels, who are fighting among themselves as well as against Assad.