Imad Ghalioun, Syrian parliamentary member, defects


Imad Ghalioun, a Syrian parliamentary member representing the restive city of Homs, has defected to join the opposition against President Bashar Assad, according to media reports.

"The Syrian people are living their worst period," Ghalioun said late Sunday in Cairo after he fled his country. "The people of Homs are under siege and the city is disaster-stricken," he said on Al-Arabiya TV. "There is no electricity, piles of garbage fill the streets…The sounds of shelling all night terrify children."

Homs has been one of the most violence-stricken cities in Syria since the government-revolt began in March.

The UN has estimated that more than 400 civilians have been killed in the last three weeks since Arab League observers entered the country on a mission to stop the regime-led violence. More than 5,000 civilians have died since March.

Activists in Syria reported new violence on Monday, claiming at least 21 deaths across the country. The reported violence cannot be independently verified as Syria has banned foreign journalists and limits local press.

Despite Syria having agreed last month with the Arab League to withdraw tanks from cities, halt crackdowns against protesters and allow aid workers to enter the country, it has had little impact in ending the continued violence.

Assad’s disregard for the international community’s plea to stop the killings have led Qatar leader Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani to propose Arab troops be sent to intervene, the Associated Press reported

Violence in Syria has become increasingly militarized. The oppositional Syrian National Council announced Monday that they are bolstering military efforts to bring down Assad.

The Free Syrian Army, made up of military defectors, claims to have grown to 40,000 fighters, Al Jazeera reported

With no signs of the violence in Syria abating, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded Sunday that Assad end the continued killings.

More from GlobalPost: UN chief Ban Ki-moon demands Syrian president Bashar al Assad to stop the violence 

"The old way, the old order, is crumbling," he said. "One-man rule and the perpetuation of family dynasties, monopolies of wealth and power, the silencing of the media, the deprivation of fundamental freedoms that are the birthright of every man, woman and child on this planet — to all of this, the people say: Enough!"

The UN chief’s comments come during the Arab League’s beleaguered mission in Syria, which have done little to establish peace.

More from GlobalPost: Nabil Elaraby, Arab League chief, said civil war in Syria a possibility 

League chief Nabil Elaraby admitted last week that the Syria mission was not going to plan following the death of French journalist Gilles Jacquier and former League monitor Anwar Malek’s departure after calling the mission a ‘farce.’

The League continued their mission nonetheless, and visited the coastal city of Banias and the restive town of Maaret al-Numan in northern Syria on Sunday.

The league foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in the coming days to discuss the future of the observer mission. 

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