A Syrian attorney general declared his resignation in a video on Thursday to protest President Bashar Assad's crackdown on a 5-month-old uprising, saying security forces killed hundreds of people in the restive city of Hama and arrested thousands of "peaceful protesters."
The video of Adnan Bakkour, attorney general for the central Hama province, appeared to show a high-ranking defection from the embattled regime. The state-run news agency said Thursday that "terrorists" had kidnapped Bakkour and forced him to make the recording, although Bakkour denied that in a second video.
In the first video, Bakkour says security forces killed 72 prisoners on July 31 and another 420 people during a military siege on Hama, the main city in the province of the same name, in August. He said Interior Minister Mohammed Shaar directed the offensive and said Syrian officials instructed him to blame gangs and gunmen for the killings.
"I am resigning from my position in Assad's regime and his gang," Bakkour said in the first video, looking composed in a light suit and tie, and reading from a sheets of white paper. In the second video, Bakkour denied he had been kidnapped and said he would give more details when he fled Syria soon.
"I am under the protection of the rebels and the people," he said. Both videos were posted online late Wednesday as security forces raided homes and made arrests in Hama.
The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of the videos. Syria has banned foreign journalists and restricted local coverage, making it difficult to independently confirm events on the ground.
The United Nations estimates that 2,200 people have been killed in the crackdown on protests that erupted in mid-March. Amnesty International said this week that it believes at least 88 people, 10 of them children, have died in detention in Syria during the past five months.
The crackdown has led to international criticism and sanctions. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday that Assad has "done the irreparable."
France and its allies want the U.N. Security Council to impose an arms embargo and other sanctions on the Syrian regime and its supporters, but ally Russia is reluctant to go so far.
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