The head of Syria's military police defected to the opposition, accusing the Assad regime of systematic "murder" and claiming that reports of chemical weapons being used against rebels in the restive city of Homs were true.
Maj-Gen Abdul-Aziz Jassim al-Shallal became one of the highest ranking Syrian military officers for supporting the rebels, accusing forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of turning their weapons on innocent civilians in the now 22-month-long civil war.
In a video message posted online, reportedly from the Turkish border, he declared his defection from the army because of its deviation from its fundamental mission to protect the nation and [its] transformation into gangs of murder and destruction, the Independent reports.
He accused the military of "destroying cities and villages and committing massacres against innocent people who came out to demand freedom."
In his message, General Shallal suggested that he had been working with the opposition for some time before he formally defected to the rebel cause.
He becomes the latest in a string of leading military advisers to abandon the government and join the disparate rebels.
He claimed that chemical weapons were used in Homs during a deadly attack on Christmas Eve that is likely to be of greater interest to the Syrian opposition and their foreign backers.
According to the report, it is not clear that the substance used in Homs was banned by international law, even the though the General specifically referred to a "chemical weapons" attack. (ANI)