General: Hundreds of soldiers killed
DAMASCUS – Syria’s military spokesman says more than 400 members of security forces have been killed in the months-long unrest that has taken hold in the country, a charge that came as videos surfaced allegedly showing children killed in the violence.
In an interview with CNN in Damascus, Maj. Gen. Riad Haddad [said] 1300 security personnel were wounded, and that 300 soldiers, 60 security officials and 50 police died in the violence.
He also has said 700 people, whom he described as terrorists, and their families had fled Syrian authorities to Turkey.
Haddad offered no details about the killings of the security forces other than to blame the deaths on armed gangs. CNN could not independently verify the claim.
President Bashar al-Assad has faced growing criticism from leaders in the United States, Europe and elsewhere over his government’s violent clampdown on demonstrators. Al-Assad has repeatedly blamed “armed gangs” in explaining its military crackdowns, which have led thousands of Syrians to cross into Turkey.
Months of protests have left more than 1 100 dead, according to human rights activists. But the extent of the carnage is not clear. About 10 000 people have been jailed since mid-March when the protests began, said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the London-based Syria Observatory for Human Rights.
CNN could not independently verify the claims of the activist or the human rights group.
Haddad’s claim came as two videos surfaced on YouTube purporting to show a 13-year-old boy killed Friday in al-Kiswah, a suburb of Damascus. In the video, a hand is seen turning the head of the boy to reveal what appears to be a surgical scar. The boy’s mom is also seen in the video moaning and cursing al-Assad and his security forces.
In another video, mourners are seen at a funeral for two children and a man who were said to have been killed in a Damascus suburb. Mourners can be heard chanting: “Patience oh Assad, patience, we will dig your grave.”