More than 60 soldiers have been killed in clashes with the rebel Free Syrian Army in Damascus in the past 48 hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.
“Between 40 and 50 soldiers of the regular Syrian forces were killed the day before yesterday (Monday) in fighting in Damascus, and at least 20 were killed yesterday,” the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
He added that forces of the presidential guard had deployed around the capital, but “they are not involved in the fighting” that erupted in several districts of the city on Sunday.
Abdel Rahman said helicopters attacked the Barzeh and Qaboon districts of Damacus on Wednesday, and that “residents of Qaboon are leaving.”
Two brigadier generals defected
Two Syrian brigadier generals crossed into Turkey overnight, a Turkish foreign ministry official told AFP Wednesday.
"Some 330 Syrians including two brigadier generals fled to Turkey Tuesday night," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official also said that nearly 43,300 Syrian refugees were now living in camps near the border with Syria.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of Syrians arriving in Turkey, whether they are civilians or military,” he added.
On Monday, a Syrian general and several soldiers crossed into the Turkish side of the border.
Turkey has become home to dozens of defectors who have crossed the border and formed the Free Syrian Army in opposition to President Bahsar al-Assad's regime.
In Washington, a U.S. State Department official who asked not to be named said a total of 1,280 Syrians had fled to Turkey overnight, including the general and other soldiers.
“Clearly the regime is panicking at this point,” the U.S. official added.
Forces moved from Golan
In a sign that the Syrian regime is under pressure, Israeli intelligence chief said on Tuesday that Assad’s regime is moving forces to Damascus from Golan heights.
In a security briefing to a parliamentary committee, the intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, estimated that Assad “will not survive the uprising, even if it takes some more time,” The New York Times quoted him as saying. He said that 13,000 soldiers and officers had defected from the Syrian Army, and that 60 to 70 senior officers had been killed by the opposition, according to the spokesperson’s office of the Israeli military.