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Syrian Official to Meet Russia’s Lavrov for Peace Plan Talks

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad will meet in Moscow tomorrow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss a resolution of the 21-month conflict in the Middle Eastern country.

In a sign of the growing pressure on the Damascus regime, a high-ranking Syrian military officer said he has joined the opposition, according to Al Arabiya TV.

Major General Abdul Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, chief of the military police in Syria, announced his resignation in a video, according to Al Arabiya’s website.

“I declare my defection from the regime’s army because of its deviation of its fundamental mission to protect the nation and transformation into gangs of killing and destruction,” the general said in the video according to Al Arabiya.

Shallal was speaking from the Turkish-Syrian border, according to the report. He crossed into Turkey with members of his family, according to Turkish news reports.

“Definitely, there are other high-ranking officers who want to defect but the situation is not suitable for them to declare defection,” he was cited by Al Arabiya as saying.

Mikdad’s visit to Moscow continues discussions started when United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Dec. 24, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry official who asked not to be identified, citing the sensitivity of the negotiations.

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net; Terry Atlas in Washington at tatlas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

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