Military police chief defects, joins ‘people’s revolution’

The general who heads Syria's military police has defected and joined the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime, one of the highest walkouts by a serving security chief during the country's 21-month uprising, a pan Arab TV station has reported.

Maj Gen Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal appeared in a video aired on Al Arabiya TV late Tuesday saying he is joining "the people's revolution.''

Al-Shallal's defection comes as military pressure builds on the regime, with government bases falling to rebel assault near the capital Damascus and elsewhere across the country.

Al-Shallal is one of the most senior and held a top post at the time that he left. He said in the video that the "army has derailed from its basic mission of protecting the people and it has become a gang for killing and destruction.''

He accused the military of "destroying cities and villages and committing massacres against our innocent people who came out to demand freedom.''

Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Wednesday said government shelling in the northeastern province of Raqqa killed at least 20 people, including women and children.

The Observatory said the shelling in an agricultural area of Raqqa province near the village of Qahtaniyeh killed 20, including eight children, three women and nine others.

An amateur video showed the bodies of a dozen people including children lying in a row inside a room. Some of them had blood on their clothes, while weeping could be heard in the background.

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