Syrian military officer defects after witnessing massacre
A senior Syrian military officer has described how he defected to opposition forces after witnessing pro-regime militiamen massacre more than 100 civilians in the town of Houla one week ago.
Major Jihad Raslan's account came as the UN's Kofi Annan yesterday warned of an increasing risk of imminent war in Syria.
"The spectre of an all-out war with an alarming sectarian dimension grows by the day," he said.
Major Raslan served until last Saturday in the Syrian Air Force in the port city of Tartous. He had been in Houla on leave when the town was shelled, then invaded by a civilian militia.
The officer said he was in his house, around 300 metres from the site of the first massacre in the village of Taldous, when hundreds of men whom he knew to be Shabiha members rode into town in cars and army trucks and on motorbikes.
"A lot of them were bald and many had beards. Many also wore army pants. They were shouting: 'Shabiha forever, for your eyes, Assad'. It was very obvious who they were."