Syria is heading for full-blown civil war, top UN official warns

Saturday, October 15, 2011
By Paul Martin

Ten people have died in the latest clashes as protesters urge more people to defect from the Syrian security forces

Martin Chulov
Guardian.co.uk

Large rallies urging further defections from the Syrian security forces have been attacked by government gunmen, as a senior United Nations official warned that the country was sliding towards a full-blown civil war.

At least 10 people were killed across Syria, taking the death toll in the six-month uprising to more than 3,000, not including loyalist members of the security forces who continue to target demonstrators.

Deir Azour in the Kurdish north was a scene of violent clashes between security forces and defectors who had been urged to swap sides by thousands of chanting activists.

In recent weeks a largely passive rights movement inside Syria has taken on a more militant tone, with activists openly seeking weapons and soldiers who have fled the army battling with their former colleagues. The Syrian government says around 1,100 security officers have been killed.

On Thursday, at least 36 people were killed nationwide, 25 of them either former or serving security force members. Friday’s demonstrations were called in support of the defectors, who Syrian activists say hold the key to the future of an uprising that has become a grinding struggle.

“We know the world is not coming to help us,” said one man speaking by phone from Homs. “We will do what we have to do. Our brothers in the security forces are increasingly waking up. And soon we will fight alongside them in large numbers.”

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