BEIRUT (AP) — A Syrian attorney general has appeared on a video accusing security forces of killing hundreds and arresting thousands of anti-government demonstrators and declaring his resignation in protest at President Bashar Assad’s crackdown.
It appeared to be a high-ranking defection from the embattled regime. But Thursday, the state-run news agency said "terrorists" kidnapped Adnan Bakkour Monday and forced him to make the recording.
In the video, Bakkour, attorney general in the restive central city of Hama, said security forces arrested thousands of "peaceful protesters," killed 72 prisoners on July 31 and another 420 people during a military siege on Hama in August. He said Syrian officials instructed him to blame gangs and gunmen for the killings.
"I am resigning from my position in Assad’s regime and his gang," Bakkour said in the video, which was posted online late Wednesday as security forces raided homes and made arrests in Hama.
The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of the video. Syria has banned foreign journalists and restricted local coverage, making it difficult to independently confirm events on the ground.
The United Nations estimates that 2,200 people have been killed in the crackdown on protests that erupted in mid-March. Amnesty International said this week that it believes at least 88 people, 10 of them children, have died in detention in Syria during the past five months.
The crackdown has led to international criticism and sanctions. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday that Assad has "done the irreparable." France and its allies want the U.N. Security Council to impose an arms embargo and other sanctions on the Syrian regime and its supporters, but ally Russia is reluctant to go so far.