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Former Syrian defense minister defects to Turkey, opposition group says

Former Syrian Defense Minister General Ali Habib has defected the country and is now in Turkey, Free Syrian Army spokesman Fahd Al-Masri told Fox News.

Ali Habib crossed the border from Syria last night, Reuters reports, but Syrian State TV claims he is still in his home in Syria.

Al-Masri told Fox News that Ali Habib is with Turkish officials and is in the process of making contact with Syrian opposition figures within Turkey.

Secretary of State John Kerry made mention of the defection during a House committee hearing on Wednesday as the U.S. mulls a possible military strike on Syria.

"Just today before coming in here, I read an e-mail to me about a general, the minister of defense, former minister or assistant minister, I forget which, who has just defected and is now in Turkey," Kerry said. "And there are other defections that we are hearing about... because of the potential that we might take action."

Ali Habib left his defense minister post in 2011 after reportedly complaining about civilian attacks coordinated by President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The announcement of Ali Habib's defection comes after a Syrian forensic medicine expert fled to Turkey on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

Istanbul-based opposition coalition spokeswoman Sarah Karkour said Abdeltawwab Shahrour, head of the forensic medicine committee in Aleppo, has evidence that Assad used chemical weapons in a March attack on Aleppo and is planning to reveal it.

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