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Another Top Syrian Commander Joins Opposition
March 17, 2013

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Another top member of the Syrian military has gone over to the opposition, as the country marks two years of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad that has claimed the lives of more than 70,000 people.

Brig. Gen. Mohammed Nour Ezzedeen Khallouf, who was in charge of the army's supplies and logistics, changed sides and threw in his lot with a number of other top brass, including Gen. Salim Idris, who now leads the Free Syrian Army. Other high-level defectors now work alongside Idris.

Protests across the country in the wake of the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the uprising were few and far between. The fighting continued at various hotspots across the country, with government forces continuing to focus on rebel pockets in Damascus, the capital.

Assad, meanwhile, issued an appeal for support from other countries, including a direct appeal to the leaders of the so-called BRICS nations (Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa), who are are all convened at a meeting in Durban, South Africa.

The main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, has convened in Istanbul, Turkey, with an aim of choosing an interim prime minister. A total of 12 candidates, including a former Cabinet minister, are running for the position.

Human rights continue to report higher and higher numbers of civilian dead, with the latest figures topping 70,000. Reports of the Syrian army's using cluster bombs have increased.

A further 4 million people have been displaced by the civil war.

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