In a move similar to the beginnings of the downfall of Libya's Muammar Gadhafi, a Syrian diplomat disavowed his ties to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, according to a report from Reuters on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the rights group Women Under Siege accused Syria of using rape and assault as a weapon of war, citing 81 instances of sexual assault. Most of the attacks were in the rebel base of Homs, a frequent target of Syrian security forces in their bid to stop the anti-government movement.
Here's a look at international reaction to the defection and further information on the report by Women Under Siege.
Former regime member quits in Baghdad: Syria's Ambassador to Iraq, Nawah al-Fares issued a video statement on Facebook calling for members of the military to turn on Assad's government and protect their own citizens. He said that he was joining the rebellion, though he did not give a reason for his defection.
A member of the Syrian National Council said that his defection was only the beginning, and noted that the opposition group was in touch with other diplomats.
U.S. welcomes defection: Director Patrick Ventrell of the U.S. State Department acknowledged earlier on Wednesday during a press briefing a report that the Syrian Ambassador had defected, noting that there had been "defections from the Syrian military and security forces who have courageously rejected the horrific actions of the Assad regime." He welcomed the defection, presuming the report at the time was true.
He also noted that the U.S. endorses U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan for Syria, a plan that was not supported by opponents in the Syrian National Council.
He backed away from discussion regarding Russia sending a destroyer and marines to its port in Syria, saying that the U.S. understands Russia has a "naval supply and maintenance base in the port, and we have no reason to believe that this is anything out of the ordinary."
Data "largely anecdotal", but many reports reach group: Women Under Siege, a project to document rape and sexual violence against women in conflict zones, said that a team of doctors, activists, and journalists, had gathered 81 stories of sexual assault in Syria. One doctor, Karestan Koenen associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, said that the data indicated that most instances weren't necessarily organized, but that "sexualized violence is being used as a tool of war."
Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.