At least five former military officers who had joined the ranks of Syrian rebels admitted on Wednesday that they were wrong and refused to fight against the government, al-Quds al-Arabi online news portal reported.
The officers fought in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) - the main armed opposition group composed of defected Syrian Armed Forces personnel and volunteers.
“We announce our refusal to carry on the armed resistance as we have realized that the solution to the Syrian crisis cannot be achieved by holding weapons,” Col. Khaled al-Zalem told a conference of Syrian opposition in Damascus.
Al-Zalem, who served as the head of an FSA ‘military council’ in southern Syria, said he and several other officers were siding back with the government and called on other rebels to follow their example .
The conference of 15 Syrian “internal” opposition parties and eight civil society movements opened in the Syrian capital on Sunday.
The Syrian conflict has claimed up to 30,000 lives according to estimates by various Syrian opposition groups. The UN estimates the death toll at about 18,000 people.
The West and the Syrian opposition are pushing for President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster while Russia and China are trying to prevent outside interference in Syria, saying that the Assad regime and the opposition are both to blame for the bloodshed.