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A senior military officer in the Syrian city of Hama has defected along with up to 50 of his soldiers, in protest of the government's ten-month crackdown on peaceful protests that has claimed thousands of lives across the country.
Colonel Afeef Mahmoud Suleiman announced his defection live on Al Jazeera's Arabic news channel on Saturday.
Suleiman is from the Syrian air force logistics division. He said he and his men had taken on a new mission to keep protesters in Hama safe during demonstrations.