Syrian army ordered to commit genocide in restive city
Syrian army troops were ordered to commit genocide in the flashpoint southern city of Daraa, claimed an army defector in remarks published Saturday.
"I and other (army) officers received orders from our commanders to carry out a genocidal operation in Daraa and were told not to spare the lives of women and children," Ahmed Khalef, a former officer in a Syrian elite army unit, told the pan-Arab newspaper Ashareq Al Awsat, - DPA reported.
Khalef, who said he had served in the army for 10 years, added that he had refused to obey the orders.
"This was an enough reason for issuing an order to physically liquidate me," said Khalef, who fled the country.
The paper said it would not disclose the whereabouts of the defector, at his request, for fear of reprisal.
Khalef estimated that around 4,500 army personnel had defected in the Syrian capital alone.
More than 1,500 people and around 350 security personnel have been killed since pro-democracy protests against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in mid-March, local human rights advocates say.
At least 24 civilians were killed Friday by security and army troops in demonstrations in several parts of Syria, according to the opposition group Local Coordination Committees of Syria.