There are reports of small-scale military defections. The regime regularly reports that police officers and soldiers have been murdered by the “terrorists” and “gangs,” but the opposition says this is a way of justifying crackdowns and covering up the execution of those who refuse to fire on civilians. On May 7, the regime claimed that ten soldiers were murdered in Homs, but the opposition said 9 had defected. It has been confirmed that there was a two-hour clash in the city between military personnel and that at least one soldier was executed for turning on the regime. Other opposition sources have reported defections in al-Rustun.
Al-Jazeera has learned that some soldiers from the 5th Division in Daraa acted to protect civilians being fired upon by the 4th Division led by Maher Assad, resulting in fighting for hours in front of Bilal Mosque. The network reported that about 20 soldiers had sided with the people, but the regime has made it very difficult for information to come out of the areas under siege, and unconfirmed reports indicate the number could be significantly higher.
The Reform Party of Syria reports that an army officer named Safok Khalifa in Homs and 35 of the men in his unit refused to fire on civilians, resulting in their executions. There has yet to be a large-scale defection of government officials, but at least 233 members of the Baath Party have resigned their membership, including 203 from Daraa and 30 from Banias.
The international community is finally reacting to the Assad regime’s inhumanity. The U.S. has placed sanctions on three senior Syrian officials, and the European Union has approved an arms embargo and sanctioned 14 officials, though Assad himself has been spared for now. The U.N. Human Rights Council has voted in favor of investigating the abuses, and now, the Obama Administration is reportedly moving towards calling for Assad’s resignation.
Assad is a dictator that makes good on his threats and will stop at nothing to crush whoever stands in his way. It is not known what Assad is planning on doing after the May 15 deadline passes, but there is little time for the international community to pressure him into backtracking on whatever evil he plans on carrying out.
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