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Syrian Soldiers Bolt Amid Fear of Strike

Around 55 Syrian army soldiers based in the Damascus suburbs have reportedly joined rebel forces.
By Adam Ross
First Publish: 9/3/2013, 5:35 PM

Syrian soldiers
Syrian soldiers
AFP file
The Arabic news agency Al Arabiya reported on Monday that around 55 Syrian army soldiers had recently defected to join rebel forces. 

The defection of the group, reported to be largely based in the suburbs of the capital Damascus, could be indicative of rising fear within the rank and file of the Syrian military ahead of a possible U.S. led attack. Despite the indecision shown by Barack Obama in ordering a military response to last month's chemical attack on civilians, many believe that an strike on the Syrian military is still imminent. 

Yesterday French lawmakers were shown intelligence laying the blame for the chemical attack of August 21 at the door of the Syrian military, leading to calls for a strong military reaction. Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cranked up tensions another notch with a veiled threat of his own against French interests in the Middle East.

In June of this year over 70 Syrian military officers, including six generals and 22 colonels, deserted President Bashar al-Assad's army and crossed the border into Turkey, according to reports.