Cluster bombs linked to civilian casualties
The news of Khalouf's apparent defection and the death of Hasan came the same day a human rights group accused Syrian forces of using an increasing number of cluster bombs in residential areas.
Human Rights Watch says its researchers have identified 119 locations across Syria, where at least 156 cluster bombs have been used from August to mid-February.
The result is "mounting civilian casualties," the rights group said.
Human Rights Watch said it has investigated two cluster bomb attacks in the past two weeks -- in Deir Jamal, near Aleppo, and Talbiseh, near Homs.
These attacks killed 11 civilians, including two women and five children, and injured 27 others, the rights group said.
"Syria is expanding its relentless use of cluster munitions, a banned weapon, and civilians are paying the price with their lives and limbs," said Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch.
"The initial toll is only the beginning because cluster munitions often leave unexploded bomblets that kill and maim long afterward."
The Syrian government did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment....