Syrians hoping for a swift rebel victory in their homeland are growing impatient with top army defectors.

The army defectors have been staying in Turkey even after fighters on the ground have gained territory across the border in northern Syria.

Turkey has emerged as a haven not only for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, but for some of the most high-level defectors from President Bashar Assad's regime.

The Free Syrian Army, the loose umbrella group of rebel fighters, uses Turkey as a headquarters and staging ground.

But now rebel fighters have carved out some ground for themselves along the border inside Syria.

Some rebels and refugees say it is time for the most elite defectors, including dozens of officers and more than 25 generals, to go home and fight.

A Syrian refugee in Turkey, told The Associated Press that "they should go into Syria and let the revolution benefit from their long years of experience."

Commanders of the FSA in Turkey say they are hardly sitting idle and have been directing the fight inside Syria and that Turkey is a secure place to do it from.

Unfair or not, the criticism reflects a tension over who has real credibility to claim the revolt's leadership among the Syrian opposition, which includes multiple militias on the ground, politicians who live in exile and now defectors from some of the upper levels of Assad's military.

If the revolt ever succeeds in ousting Assad, those tensions could fuel a divisive power struggle among the winners.

Thousands of Syrian soldiers, most of them low-level conscripts, have deserted and joined the rebels since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011.

The higher echelons of Assad's military have stayed largely intact, which makes those generals and senior officers who did break away and are now in Turkey important sources of information and expertise for the rebellion.

There is a perception among refugees and even some in the FSA that those who were in the military's officer corps, are happy to stay in Turkey, while the former conscripts and Syrian civilians who took up weapons and joined FSA-linked militias do the fighting.

Most of those based in Turkey are mid-level officers ranging from lieutenants to colonels, staying in a camp separate from those housing the refugees.

In recent weeks, rebels have taken control of large areas on the border with Turkey as well as several neighborhoods in Syria's largest city, Aleppo.

40km south of the border is where heavy fighting has been raging for nearly two weeks as regime forces try to dislodge them.

Although the area is not a stronghold akin to Libya's Benghazi,  from which rebels in that country launched their revolt, it does allow a certain amount of freedom along the border.

FSA operative, Ahmed Kassem said: "If army defectors who are in Turkey today were real officers and deserved to be called officers they should enter now."

"They used to say there are no buffer zones. Now the field is open and there are liberated areas."

Earlier, President Bashar al-Assad said the Syrian army's battle with rebel forces would determine the fate of his country.

He praised his forces for confronting what he said were "criminal terrorist gangs".

"The fate of our people and our nation, past, present and future, depends on this battle," Mr Assad said in a written statement marking armed forces day.

He has not spoken in public since four of his top security officials were assassinated two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has said the Assad regime is responsible for crimes against humanity in the country's second city, Aleppo.

The human rights group said the Syrian government has routinely used live ammunition against peaceful protestors.

Amnesty said activists face the risk of extrajudicial execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance and torture.

Syrian combat aircraft and artillery pounded Aleppo late into the night as the army battles for control of the city.

The battle for Aleppo has become a crucial test for both sides in the 16-month-old rebellion.