Syrian army tanks move into city
In this photo, Syrian army tanks are seen moving into the Jabal Al-Zawya area of Idlib, Syria. Reuters

Defectors from the Syrian army attacked a military check point in the Hama province on Tuesday night, killing at least eight soldiers and security troops, according to activists.

The incident in Hama followed a string of attacks on military facilities in Damascus, including the Air Force Intelligence headquarters compound.

The Free Syrian Army, a rebel group made up of ex-Syrian soldiers, took credit for the attacks. The Free Syrian Army emerged as an anti-government force in July, but the attacks are the first serious strikes against President Bashar al-Assad's government.

The Free Syrian Army carried out special operations in all Damascus areas to foil a plan being prepared by the regime against our people and to send a message to the regime that the Free Syrian Army can hit anywhere and anytime, the group said in a Facebook posting.

On Monday, army defectors attacked and killed 34 Syrian soldiers.

Around 3,500 people have been killed since protesting began in the country in March, along with 1,000 security forces, according to The Wall Street Journal. Army defections have been a recurring theme -- when ordered to fire upon unarmed civilians, many soldiers have mutinied and joined the opposition.

In some instances, as when the Syrian Army stormed the city of Hama in June, soldiers were then ordered to shoot and kill defectors.

The attacks in Syria this week coincide with a meeting of the Arab League in Morocco, where the group will likely reaffirm Syria's membership.

Because of the continued military crackdown, Assad is quickly losing friends in the Arab League. Turkey has been advising Assad to negotiate with opposition, and the country has been housing both refugees and Free Syrian Army commanders.

Jordan's King Abdullah became the first Arab leader to publicly call for Assad's resignation on Monday. Meanwhile, Iran, which is perhaps Syria's biggest traditional ally in the region, has been distancing itself from Assad.

Syria previously agreed to an Arab League peace plan that would open a dialogue between the government and the opposition, but with dozens of protestor deaths this week, the League might be willing to wait any longer for peace. Assad did say on Tuesday that 1,180 prisoners would be released, many of them dissidents, in an attempt to appease regional powers.

“It is not among our expectations that the Assad regime meet all the demands of the [Syrian] people,” Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyep Erdogan stated. “Our wish is that it . . . does not enter this road of no return, which leads to the edge of the abyss.”