London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, General Fayez Amro of the Free Syrian Army [FSA], stressed that increasingly senior officers are defecting from the al-Assad regime forces, revealing that there are 15 defected generals present in Syria, 4 in Jordan and an unspecified number present in Syria itself. He asserted that hundreds of soldiers have defected from the Syrian regime over the past three days, representing a significant increase in the rate of defections.
This comes as a top Syrian general, Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, defected from the al-Assad regime, representing a significant blow to the ailing Syrian leader. Tlass was a member of the elite Republican Guards and the son of former Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass.
General Amro also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the pace of defections from the al-Assad regime forces are not even higher than they are today due to the media blackout that is imposed upon the Syrian troops, with Syrian soldiers being denied access to any forms of information or communication, including even the official regime newspaper.
He stressed that “Syria is in a state of hysteria…a state of mass destruction, and it is the pro-regime Shabiha militia that is most responsible for the suppression and killing.”
He added “if the regime was subject to a single [foreign] air strike, this would save a lot of lives in Syria. This has become an international humanitarian crisis, and it is clear that what is happening in Syria is the result of the blatant Russian and Iranian interference, supporting the al-Assad regime with ammunition and manpower, not to mention the Hezbollah mercenaries…so what is wrong with international intervention?”
General Amro also highlighted the problem of mass displacement in Syria, revealing that “80 percent of the population has been displaced internally” adding “there are villages, some of which had populations of 60,000, which are all now empty. Qala’at al-Husn, for example, which was previously home to 35,000, now only has a population of 3,000.”
He added “what is preventing military intervention, particularly if the Russian Shabiha is defending the regime? They are bragging that they will not allow any foreign intervention in Syria, however this is a political lie, and so the revolutionary today may have a gun, but he does not have ammunition. We are being killed in a purely Iranian Persian manner, and if you look back to history they would burn their dead, as is happening in Syria today.”
General Amro stressed that there is no civil war in Syria, rather this is a war being conducted by a regime its allies against an unarmed population, including even children.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that “tens of thousands” of soldiers have fled since the Syrian revolution broke out in March 2011, but not all have joined the armed rebellion.
For his part, FSA commander Colonel Riad al-Asaad previously informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “more than 40,000 armed soldiers of the DSA are fighting on the ground in Syria, whilst there are a 100,000 more who are waiting for arms to join the ranks of the fighters and who are ready for battle.