As diplomacy has failed to make headway and the conflict has dragged out on the battlefield, Assad’s military have been sapped by defections of low- and high-ranking soldiers.
The Turkish state news agency reported Tuesday that seven Syrian generals defected to Turkey. Anadolu said they arrived in the Turkish border province of Hatay seeking refuge. Their identities were not disclosed.
They join dozens of other generals who have abandoned the regime. More than 110,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey since the uprising began in March last year.
In Jordan, which also borders Syria, visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Riad Hijab, the former Syrian prime minister who defected to Jordan in August. It was a rare, high-level contact between Moscow and a Syrian opposition figure. Russia is one of the strongest international supporters of Assad’s regime.
Lavrov said his talks with Hijab in Amman were meant to get firsthand information from the Syrian opposition on how they view a solution to the civil war.
‘‘The idea of the meeting was to get an agreement or a roadmap on how to deal with opposition forces and save the Syrian people,’’ Lavrov told reporters.
He voiced continued support for Assad’s regime, warning that the alternative would plunge Syria into further chaos.
In the Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Palestinian group Hamas said the Syrian government has sealed its offices in Damascus, finalizing the break between the Islamic militant group and its former patron.
Ayman Taha said the move had been expected after Hamas openly switched sides to support the armed rebellion against Assad’s regime.
Hamas moved its headquarters to Syria in the late 1990s. But relations have soured since the regime violently suppressed an uprising that began as mostly peaceful protests. Many top Hamas leaders were based in Damascus until earlier this year when they moved to Qatar, Egypt and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Activists and state media reported clashes, shelling and air raids in different parts of Syria.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said over 100 people were killed in violence across Syria on Tuesday, including air raids on Houla, a group of villages in central province of Homs, that killed seven people. The group also reported air raids on the Damascus suburbs of Douma, Kfar Batna and Maadamiyeh and the northern province of Idlib.
SANA said six regime supporters were killed when 11 mortars rounds fell near a pro-government demonstration Monday night in the northern city of Aleppo.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Observatory, said an oil pipeline that carries crude from Al-Amr oil field in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour to a refinery in the central city of Homs blew up during fighting and shelling in the Homs suburb of Sultaniyah. Abdul-Rahman said it was not clear if the pipeline was targeted by a bomb or was hit by a random shell adding that the explosion causes a huge fire.
Associated Press writer Dale Gavlak in Amman, Jordan, Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, David Stringer in London and Abdullah al-Shihri in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, contributed to this report.