A Syrian Major-General has deserted Assad's army along with a group of other officers and joined the rebels.
In an Arabic video clip posted on Youtube on July 29, 2011, the officer, Major-General Riad El As'ad is seen in the company of other officers, announcing the establishment of the "Free Syrian Army whose main goal will be to fight the army of oppression headed by President Bashar Assad".
As'ad accused the Assad regime of crimes against the Syrian people and called on the officers and soldiers in the Syrian army not to aim their weapons at the people. He further called on them to join the Free Syrian Army.
The major-general warned that the Free Army will eliminate any soldier who acts to harm his own people. The present army commanders do not represent the army, he continued, they are acting for the criminal gang that controls the media and prevents the people from obtaining truthful information on what is happening.
In recent weeks, a large number of officers and soldiers have deserted the regular Syrian army. In one instance, there was a mutiny and at least ten of the soldiers participating were shot and killed. Assad continues to control the country, but the violent protest against him goes on and has even reached the outskirts of Damascus. Tension is high between the Alawites, the minority Shite sect to which Assad belongs that controls the country, and the majority Sunni sect which is 70% of the Syrian population.
The former Vice President of Syria, Abd Al-Halim Khaddam, Assad's bitter enemy, speaking from France, opined that Assad will fall only if the army disintegrates. That disintegration may have begun.