International

Amid Intense Fighting, Syria's U.N. Human Rights Envoy Defects

As more heavy fighting continues in Aleppo, Syria's chief Human Rights ambassador has defected and pledged allegiance to the opposition.

The AFP reported the story this morning and Swiss state media confirmed it. The AFP reports:

"'Basically, when I felt I could not help my people any more I had to move on,' Danny al-Baaj, the first Syrian diplomat in Switzerland to abandon Bashar al-Assad's regime, told AFP.

"'When I was involved in any negotiations (on Syria) my concern was to protect the country not the government,' he added.

"Baaj said he took his decision a long time ago and had been in contact with Syrian opposition group the Democratic Forum based in Paris."

On the fighting, there are two stories of note today: First, disturbing video has emerged on YouTube that appears to show opposition forces throwing government soldiers off the roof a building.

The Los Angeles Times reports that in the video, three corpses are seen being thrown from the roof as a big crowd gathers around them. The Times spoke to an activist who witnessed the scene. He said the corpses were government snipers and they were thrown off the roof after opposition forces seized the building.

"What happened was really bad. We should respect the dead even if they were our enemies," he told the Times, adding that the bodies were later buried using Muslim customs.

The second story to note is that the opposition said it had downed a military jet today in Aleppo. As the AFP reports, if it's true, this would mark the first time the opposition have successfully downed a jet.

It might mean a psychological victory, but the AFP reports that regime had "seized the upper hand in Aleppo as it advanced into a new rebel-held district."

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