Yesterday, Syria’s state media reported 120 troops killed by “armed gangs” in the area around the protest city of Jisr al-Shugur. The toll was scoffed at by many, particularly coming with the promise of a ‘decisive response’ seen as a justification for another violent crackdown. It seems the reports may have been accurate, however.
Since then, reports have emerged that portions of Syria’s military, dissatisfied with their use in attacks on civilian demonstrators, have defected, and it seems that the death toll reflects the bloody aftermath of a mutiny in the city. One opposition faction even suggested that many of the deaths were summary executions of troops who refused to take part in the crackdown.
Of course Jisr al-Shugur is virtually cut off from the rest of the world at this point, so accurate reports remain virtually impossible to confirm exactly what is going on there, but one broadcast showed a uniformed soldier, apparently having defecting, calling on other Syrian troops to do the same.
At the same time, Syrian troops are moving ever closer to the city, and with tanks on their side there is concern of yet another bloodbath. Well over 1,000 protesters have been killed in the months of demonstrations, and now it seems we can put the death toll among security forces at 150 or more.