Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

November 6, 2012

Brother of Syrian parliament speaker assassinated

(Continued)

In another blow to the regime, Turkey's state-run news agency reported Tuesday that seven Syrian generals defected to Turkey. The Anadolu Agency said they arrived in the Turkish border province of Hatay seeking refuge. Their identities were not disclosed.

The agency said they were taken to a refugee camp in Hatay that shelters defected soldiers under tight security. They join dozens of other generals who have abandoned the regime. More than 110,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey since the uprising began in March last year.

In Jordan, which also borders Syria, visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Riad Hijab, the former Syrian prime minister who defected to Jordan in August. It was a rare, high-level contact between the Moscow government and a Syrian opposition figure. Russia is one of the strongest international supporters of Assad's regime.

Lavrov said his talks with Hijab in Amman were meant to get firsthand information from the Syrian opposition on how they view a solution to the civil war.

"The idea of the meeting was to get an agreement or a roadmap on how to deal with opposition forces and save the Syrian people," Lavrov told reporters.

He voiced continued support for Assad's regime, warning that the alternative would dip Syria into further chaos.

In the Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Palestinian group Hamas said the Syrian government has sealed its offices in Damascus, finalizing the break between the Islamic militant group and its former patron.

Ayman Taha said the move had been expected after Hamas openly switched sides to support the armed rebellion against Assad's regime. Speaking from Cairo, Taha said Monday's move by Syrian authorities was "a result of our siding with the Syrian people in their just struggle."

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