Dozens Defect Syrian Army as Rebels Cry Genocide

Europe calls for measured response to downed Turkish plane
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 25, 2012 7:36 AM CDT
This citizen journalism image taken on Friday, June 22, 2012 purports to show Syrians chanting during a demonstration in Damascus, Syria.   (AP Photo/Kafarsouseh Revolt)

(Newser) – The Syrian military has been hit with a raft of new defections: Six officers and 33 soldiers today quit the country for Turkey. Reports suggest they brought their families along, bringing the total number to 224 people. Accounts differ as to whether the defectors included an army general. They add to seven others, including three pilots, who have left the country since last week's defection of a pilot to Jordan, al-Arabiya reports. Meanwhile, Europe is grappling with the potential fallout after Syria shot down a Turkish plane, the New York Times notes.

The EU wants Turkey "to be restrained in its response" to the incident, the EU's foreign policy head said; NATO meetings are set for tomorrow. Europe won't back military intervention, says the Dutch foreign minister. Back in Syria, the crisis in Homs is growing, with the opposition Free Syrian Army citing a regime plan "to commit the greatest massacre in history," according to al-Jazeera. The group says the regime is sending some 100 tanks to Homs, and it's time for the "international community" to take action. "We have called on the world to do something for our city and its trapped, unarmed civilians, yet there has been no response from anyone," the Syrian National Council said, calling the situation a "genocide." The Red Cross says it's struggling to get "unambiguous" approval from both sides as it steps up its attempt to help locals evacuate, Reuters reports.

My Take on This Story