Syria's Chief of Military Police Defects, Joins Opposition
Latest high-profile defection another setback to Assad regime
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2012 10:31 AM CST
In this image made from video broadcast on Al Arabiya TV late last night, Syrian Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal makes remarks saying he is joining "the people's revolution."   (AP Photo/Al Arabiya via AP video)

(Newser) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad suffered another high-profile defection last night, as the head of the Syrian military police declared he had switched to the rebels, reports the Guardian. Major General Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal said he was joining the "people's revolution" on al-Arabiya TV, although it was unclear when and where the recording was made.

"The army has destroyed cities and villages and has committed massacres against an unarmed population that took to the streets to demand freedom," Shallal said. "Long live free Syria." Dozens of Syrian officials and generals have defected since the uprisings began in March 2011, including Brigadier Gen. Manaf Tlass in July and Prime Minister Riad Hijab in August. Syrian opposition groups claim that 44,000 people have died since the uprising began.