March 8 -Syria's deputy oil minister announces his defection from the government on video posted on a social media website. Paul Chapman reports.
PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Syria's deputy oil minister is the first high-ranking civilian official to abandon President Bashar al-Assad since the uprising against his rule began. Abdo Hussameldin announced his defection in a video posted on a social media website. The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified. With no end in sight to the conflict and reports of bloody reprisals by Assad's forces, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is due to arrive in Syria on Saturday as joint U.N.-Arab League envoy. These scenes purportedly show devastation in Idlib and a funeral for seven people said to have been killed by Syrian authorities in Deraa region. Again the video, obtained from a social media website, could not be independently verified. The United Nations estimates at least 7, 500 people have been killed by Syrian security forces. Syria says more than 2, 000 security personnel had been killed by people it called terrorists. Paul Chapman, Reuters