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Syria ushers in New Year with more violence

Published on Jan 2, 2013 6:08 AM
Residents walk past a damaged emergency vehicle in Aleppo Jan 1, 2013. -- PHOTO : REUTERS

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.

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