Oct 5 - The highest ranking military defector from Syria speaks out against Bashar Al-Assad as protests continue around the country. Lily Grimes reports.
Anger and defiance amongst Syrian refugees desperate to escape President Bashar Al-Assad's brutal regime. One man who has made it across the Turkish border is Colonel Riad al-Asaad, the highest ranking military defector so far. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN REBEL COMMANDER COLONEL RIAD AL-ASAAD SAYING: "They are responding to protests in the streets with the demolition of homes, mosques, the killing of innocent people. A monstrous regime in the literal sense, we haven't seen the type of killing and intimidation the Syrian regime has carried out since the Middle Ages. They use lies and rumours to claim there are armed gangs, it is using new methods to plant divisions among the Syrian nation." Al-Asaad was commanding the Syrian Free Army, a rebel group that activists say is leading operations around the central town of Rastan. He says about 10,000 soldiers have joined the pro-democracy protesters. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN REBEL COMMANDER COLONEL RIAD AL-ASAAD SAYING: "I want to send a message to the opposition that they unify and stand together in one line so we can topple the regime. I carry a message for the Syrian people to remain strong and lift their spirits and God willing we are coming to topple the regime and the regime will fall soon, God willing." The Turkish prime minister is expected to announce sanctions against Syria in the coming days as relations between Ankara and Damascus deteriorate. The rebel colonel's presence in Hatay in southern Turkey will only increase this tension. Meanwhile protests continue in towns and cities across Syria. Amateur videos posted on social media sites are said show to show demonstrations in Deraa, Idleb and Harasta. Lily Grimes, Reuters