A little more than a week ago, Ahmad Dahar was a member of the embattled Syrian government’s state security service in Damascus. Although he was officially a guard, he says he was not allowed to carry a weapon or go on any missions because he is a Sunni Muslim while the country's core leaders are from the minority Alawite sect of Islam.
“They’re afraid the Sunnis will try to kill the regime loyalists,” says Mr. Dahar. “They also worry that these people will defect.”
In the early days of the now 20-month conflict that has claimed more than 40,000 lives, the newly defected Dahar says non-
Alawite soldiers like himself were taken on missions, but frequently defected to the opposition as soon as they escaped the gaze of their commanders. When officers caught on, they placed such soldiers under close supervision, even taking away their weapons.
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