Syrian Defector: I Was Ordered to Commit Genocide

Ahmed Khalef, former officer in Syrian elite army unit says refused orders from commanders to commit genocide and not to spare lives of women and children.

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Syrian army troops were ordered to commit genocide in the flashpoint southern city of Daraa, an army defector claimed in remarks published Saturday.

"I and other (army) officers received orders from our commanders to carry out a genocidal operation in Daraa and were told not to spare the lives of women and children," Ahmed Khalef, a former officer in a Syrian elite army unit, told the pan-Arab newspaper Ashareq Al Awsat.

A Syrian soldier, checks his AK-47 as he stands in front the burned court building that was set on fire by Syrian anti-government protesters, in the southern city of Daraa, Syria, March 21, 2011. Credit: AP

Khalef, who said he had served in the army for 10 years, added that he refused to obey the orders.

"This was an enough reason for issuing an order to physically liquidate me," said Khalef, who fled the country.

A Syrian national shouts slogans against President Bashar Assad during a demonstration outside Syria's embassy in Cairo.
Lebanese protesters carry banners during a protest in solidarity with Syria's anti-government protesters.
A protester shouts slogans against President Bashar Assad during a demonstration by a few hundred Egyptians and Syrians outside Syria's embassy in Cairo.
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A Syrian national shouts slogans against President Bashar Assad during a demonstration outside Syria's embassy in Cairo.Credit: AFP
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Lebanese protesters carry banners during a protest in solidarity with Syria's anti-government protesters.Credit: Reuters
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A protester shouts slogans against President Bashar Assad during a demonstration by a few hundred Egyptians and Syrians outside Syria's embassy in Cairo.Credit: AFP
Arab world protests in solidarity with anti-Assad demonstrators

The paper said it would not disclose the whereabouts of the defector, at his request, for fear of reprisal.

Khalef estimated that around 4,500 army personnel had defected in the Syrian capital alone.

More than 1,500 people and around 350 security personnel have been killed since pro-democracy protests against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad began in mid-March, local human rights advocates say.

At least 24 civilians were killed Friday by security and army troops in demonstrations in several parts of Syria, according to the opposition group Local Coordination Committees of Syria.

It is hard to verify these reports, as the Syrian authorities have barred most foreign media and international human rights from the country.

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