Syria minister leaves Beirut for fear of arrest

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BEIRUT — Syria’s wounded interior minister rushed home from a Beirut hospital today for fear he would be arrested after some Lebanese called to put him on trial for his role in a 1986 crackdown by Syrian troops in Lebanon.

In another blow to President Bashar Assad, his commander of military police defected.

The defector, Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, is one of the most senior members of Assad’s inner circle to join the opposition during the 21-month-old uprising against authoritarian rule.

He appeared in a video aired on Al-Arabiya TV late Tuesday saying the army has been turned into a gang to kill and destroy.

Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar, wounded in a bombing in Damascus, left a Beirut hospital before treatment was finished and flew home to Damascus on a private jet, officials at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport said. Al-Shaar was wounded ec. 12 when a suicide bomber exploded his vehicle.

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