Turkey: Syrians defecting by the hundreds

Syrian refugees walk on June 20, 2012, at the Kilis refugee camp near the Syrian border. GettyImages

(CBS/AP) ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey's state-run news agency says nearly 300 Syrians have defected to Turkey, including 85 soldiers.

The Anadolu Agency says this happened Monday and that the 293 Syrians included a general and several other officers.

The report says it was one of the largest groups of Syrian army defectors to cross into Turkey at one time since the unrest began in Syria. Turkey is now home to more than 35,000 Syrian refugees.

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Meanwhile, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights said Monday that the flow of arms to both the Syrian government and the opposition risks escalating the conflict, which "must be avoided at all costs."

In a written statement to the Security Council, Navi Pillay talked of reported strikes by attack helicopters, torture on detainees and that "the bulk of information gathered to date" on the mass killings in Houla earlier this year indicates that the government-supported Shabiha militias and regime of Syrian President Bashar were responsible.

"The conflict is becoming increasingly sectarian and gradually eroding the fabric of society," Pillay says in her statement. "The lack of protection for civilians in Syria is becoming more acute with increasing civilian casualties and limited access to humanitarian assistance and basic services."

Pillay says arming both the opposition and the Assad regime will lead to further violence.

"The testimony of the U.N. human rights chief is significant because it shows that both the government of Syria and the opposition are continuing to pursue a military solution, despite political efforts to resolve the conflict," CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk reports from the U.N. "The high commissioner told the U.N. that both the government and the opposition are arming themselves for continued fighting, and that means more civilians will be killed."

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