Activists: 9 Syrian judges defect

Associated Press
Syrian women stand amid the ruins of their farm, destroyed by Syrian Army jets, in Al-Hafriyeh village, Syria, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012. Syrian rebel commanders have elected a new 30-member leadership council and a chief of staff, a senior rebel said Saturday in a major step toward unifying the opposition that is fighting to oust President Bashar Assad. The Supreme Military Council, which was chosen Friday during a meeting in Turkey, will work with the political leadership that was chosen last month in Qatar. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
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AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Syrian activists say nine state judges and prosecutors have defected to the opposition.

The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights says the latest defectors from the regime of President Bashar Assad come from the northern city of Adlib.

In video statement, posted online Sunday, the nine judges identify themselves by name as one of them reads a joint statement and urges others to break ranks with Assad.

Many government officials and army officers have abandoned the regime to join the opposition since the uprising started in March 2011.

Ex-Prime Minister Riad Hijab is the most senior Syrian official to defect so far.

Syria's opposition is dominated by members of the country's Sunni minority. Assad's regime is predominantly Alawite, an offshoot group of Shiite Islam.

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