Despite persistent reports to the contrary, Syria's official media continues to deny that soldiers are defecting from the army. A quick tour of YouTube turns up dozens of defector videos. The latest is here, with Ahmed Darwish in uniform and showing his official identity card announcing that he was joining the opposition "because of the army shelling mosques and firing on demonstrators." Darwish, who is not only risking his own life but that of his family, friends and pretty much everyone he knows, reveals the name of his commanding officer who issued a direct order "to fire on demonstrators." Soldiers do not want to fire on their fellow Syrians, but are under direct orders and afraid, Darwish says.
The trial of Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak entered its fourth day on Wednesday, following a postponement earlier in the week when fighting broke out in the Egyptian courtroom. Police captain Abdul Hakim Mohammed was ordered by presiding Judge Ahmed Rifaat to be held in custody for having perjured himself. The families of victims killed during the January 25th revolution cheered from the spectators' gallery as the order was announced. Mohammed testified that security officers were not equipped with live ammunition during the 18-day revolution, and that he did not know who had killed 856 peaceful protesters.
Mohammed's statements directly contradict the captain's earlier testimony during the police investigation in March when he said that security forces were armed with grenades, tear gas, bullets, shotguns and other weaponry.
Al Hayat newspaper reports that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling military leadership, the Armed Forces' Chief of Staff Sami Annan and the powerful ex-head of Egyptian intelligence, who has mysteriously escaped prosecution, Omar Suleiman will testify at Mubarak's trial in the coming days.
Al Jazeera reports that Libyan fugitive leader Muammar Gaddafi and son Saif al-Islam are likely "still inside Libya" as rumors circulate that the two are seeking to cut a deal that would allow them to leave the country.
AND IN OTHER NEWS...
Checking in with Syria's official news agency, top stories include:
*"The burials of martyred soldiers' bodies and Defense Ministry employees take place in home towns and cities'
*"China again rejects any pressure on Syria and calls for more time for reforms'
*Finance Minister Mohammed "Al-Jalailiti: Impact of European sanctions very small, ‘We will depend on ourselves'"
*"6.5 billion Syrian pounds for tourist projects in Tartous, invitations issued to solve problem of land purchasing in order to encourage domestic tourism"