"I am defecting from this criminal gang and joining the Syrian Arab people's revolution," the high-ranking officer, Yousef Assad, said. He listed the regime's violent ways, which include "murder, explusion and neglect," as the reasons behind his decision.
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He added that the Syrian regime is making "oppressive" use of aircraft "in order to destroy this homeland."
According to the opposition in Syria, 37 people have been killed in clashes across the country on Saturday, including 19 civilians, nine rebels and nine troops. The fighting was primarily concentrated in Damascus and Aleppo.
In Aleppo the army battled with rebels at the entrances to the rebel-held Bustan al-Basha district and helicopter gunships attacked the opposition bastions of Hanano, Qadi Askar, Sheikh Khader, Bustan al-Qasr and Sakhur, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
After a week of fighting over the central district of Midan, the army had taken most of the area and set up checkpoints for the first time.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the new international envoy tasked with ending Syria's civil war, said Saturday he still had no clear idea on how to proceed, but that it was "terribly important" to end a conflict that he warned was now a threat to regional and world peace.
Brahimi's bleak comments followed his first meeting with Bashar Assad since taking up the job he himself has called "nearly impossible."
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