Syria ushers in New Year with more violence
DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syrians woke up to air strikes near Damascus on New Year's Day and the closure of Aleppo airport after repeated rebel attacks, casting doubts on efforts to end the 21-month conflict.
The brutality of the war was highlighted in a graphic new video posted on the Internet by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, allegedly showing soldiers stabbing two prisoners to death.
And in a fresh blow to President Bashar al-Assad, a Turkish diplomat said some 20 Syrian soldiers, including a general, defected on Tuesday and fled to Turkey, rear-base of the insurgents battling the regime.
"The soldiers who fled to Turkey include a general, three colonels and several other officers," the diplomat told AFP in Ankara. Dozens of senior officers, as well as diplomats and political figures, have defected since the conflict began.