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The Boston Globe

World

Syria’s military police chief defects, dealing blow to Assad

General says troops have deviated from their true mission

NEW YORK — Syria’s embattled leadership suffered a new setback Wednesday with the publicly broadcast defection of its military police chief, the highest-ranking officer to abandon President Bashar Assad since the uprising against him began nearly two years ago.

The defector, Major General Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, announced his move in a video broadcast by Al Arabiya, saying that he had taken the step because of what he called the Syrian military’s deviation from ‘‘its fundamental mission to protect the nation and transformation into gangs of killing and destruction.’’

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