Syrian army defectors who fled to Turkey described Sunday the atrocities being committed by soldiers in suppressing anti-government protests, under threat of execution if they disobeyed orders. Meanwhile authorities accuse "terrorist saboteur groups" of killing scores of security forces and citizens.
President Bashar Assad continues to defend his regime, claiming his army is fighting a war against terror and denying accusation of loss of control or breach of ethics. A Syrian news agency linked to the regime reported the army had arrested two "armed gangs" operating in the city of Jisr al-Shughour. They were reportedly found carrying demolition charges and Turkish SIM cards for mobile phones.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop
According to the regime, these two armed gangs were posted in the Syrian mountains and forests and ordered to shoot at soldiers.
However these claims were unsuccessful in diverting attention from horrific eye witness stories, describing a gruesome massacre in Jisr al-Shughour.
Syrian deserters told AFP of rape and unjustified murder as Syrian tanks stormed a border town overnight in the latest assault to crush a three-month uprising against Assad, that has driven thousands of refugee to flee to Turkey.
"I've seen Iranians and Hezbollah operators giving instructions to shoot, and those who refused were immediately shot in the back," recounted a Syrian deserter to Turkish television network NTV on Saturday. "Five of my comrades firmly refused to fire. They were shot dead."
Weapons allegedly discovered by Syrian forces
"We were told that people were armed there. But when we arrived, we saw that they were ordinary civilians. We were ordered to shoot them," said Tahal al-Lush, a Syrian army deserter.
He added that when they entered the houses, "we opened fire on everyone, the young, the old... Women were raped in front of their husbands and children."
"After seeing how they killed people, I realised that the regime is prepared to massacre everyone," said Ahmed, another army defector.
However the Syrian government is doing everything it can to silence these reports. "My friends called me and said that some television channels had mentioned my name claiming I had deserted the army and then got killed by security forces," A Syrian general said. "These reports are false. We continue to fulfill our mission… These reports are trying to incite… We call our citizens to not watch these channels or trust them."
'We're alive,' say officers who were reported dead
Meanwhile, even the Al-Jazeera network has opted to provide detailed reports of the Syrian riots and Assad's cruel ways.
All foreign media is banned from reporting in Syria so it is impossible to verify the account firsthand, though it tallies with other testimonies from residents of the area that clashes between security forces had taken place.
In the past few days, Arab news networks have been showing short films of Syrian soldiers who announced they were defecting the army due to the violent oppression of citizens.
One of the defectors predicted a disastrous end. "If necessary, this regime will not hesitate to aim its guns and rockets at Damascus. So it will be all over," he said.
More than 1,200 civilians, including dozens of children, have been killed in the crackdown over the past three months, rights groups say.
Reuters, AP, AFP contributed to the report
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook