230 killed in 3 days of Syrian uprising
Syrian forces battled army defectors and anti-government activists Wednesday in violence human-rights groups said killed more than 230 people in three days.
More than 10,000 soldiers have deserted the Syrian army, and as many as half of those conscripted did not report for duty in the last three call-ups, Western intelligence agencies told Israel’s Haaretz daily.
High-ranking officers remained loyal to beleaguered President Bashar Assad, but lower-level officers have deserted in large numbers, the agencies said. In some cases, units have deserted en masse.
The White House released a statement Wednesday calling for the “full withdrawal of security forces, the release of political prisoners, and unfettered access by monitors and international media to all parts of Syria.”
“The United States continues to believe that the only way to bring about the change that the Syrian people deserve is for Bashar al-Assad to leave power. The words of the Assad regime have no credibility when they continue to be followed by outrageous and deplorable actions,” the White House said, adding Assad “should have no doubt that the world is watching, and neither the international community nor the Syrian people accept his legitimacy.”
At least 60 Syrian soldiers attempting a mass desertion were mowed down with machine-gun fire by loyalist soldiers, opposition groups said Tuesday.