On July 17, the Assad regime undertook what was regarded as its biggest
operation to stem the flow of defections from the military. The sources said
Assad's younger brother, Maher, led an operation of 2,000 soldiers and
scores of main battle tanks that raided Zabadani, which borders Lebanon.
"They severed telephone, Internet and electricity and began making
arrests," the opposition Local Coordinating Committee said.
The sources said the military force conducted a house-to-house search
for defectors. They said more than 500 people were arrested, including
The Syrian Army also sought to stop the flight of defectors in raids on
other border towns, including Dera in the south, Talkalakh in the west and
Boukamal in the east. In Boukamal, located along the border with Iraq,
opposition sources said an estimated 100 soldiers fled their units and
jointed the protesters.
"Until last month, we saw a few soldiers here or there fleeing their
units, but now the numbers are getting much bigger," the source said.