Over 1,000 people have fled from Syria and crossed the border into northern neighbour, Turkey. The mass exodus happened within the last 48 hours following a statement by the Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, saying that Turkey would not close its door to Syrian refugees and pleading with the Syrian government to curb violence against its civilians.
Whether the Syrian army will turn on President Bashar al-Assad or not remains to be seen. Joshua Landis, a US Syrian-watcher, told the New York Times that a mutiny in the army is unlikely. “Defectors are the opposition’s only hope. They hoped the Syrian army would go the way of Egypt and turn on their president. But this is not happening.”
Dozens of Syrian soldiers are defecting, however, according to a 21 year old soldier from the capital, Damascus. Talking to the Wall Street Journal he said that dozens of other security-force members had defected and provided him with a weapon that he was now ready to use against the regime. He said that he refused to open fire on protesters in the Quboun district of Damascus. “I and 10 others refused to fire. We threw our rifles on the ground and ran.”
Landis says that the fight relies on the military staying true to the regime, “because if it does stay true, there is no way the opposition can win”. He adds, “Bashar al-Assad has modern tanks and helicopters, a well-trained army, and lots of fire-power. The opposition has Facebook.”