The United States has said that the defection of the Syrian Ambassador to Baghdad is another proof that the Bashar al-Assad regime is getting weaker and losing its grip on power.
Responding to a question at daily press briefing on Wednesday, State Department Director Patrick Ventrell said if the unconfirmed news reports were true, "this would be the first senior diplomat from the regime to defect and is just further proof that the regime is getting weaker and losing its grip on power."
"There have been countless defections from the Syrian military and security forces who have courageously rejected the horrific actions of the Assad regime. So if true, we welcome it," he told reporters.
Syrian Ambassador to Iraq Nawaf Fares declared on Wednesday that he had defected to the Opposition, becoming the first senior official in the Assad government to abandon the regime since a popular anti-Assad uprising began some 16 months ago.
Syrian Ambassador to Baghdad since 2008, Fares announced his defection in a statement posted on his Facebook account and broadcast on Al-Jazeera television. He said he was resigning both as Syria's envoy to Iraq and as a member of the ruling Baath Party with immediate effect.
He called on "all party members to do the same because the regime has transformed it into a tool to oppress the people and their aspirations to freedom and dignity."
Fares' defection a week after Brigadier-General Manaf Tlas, a senior commander in Syria's Republican Guard and a close friend of Assad, defected to Turkey. Gen. Tlas, like Fares, is a Sunni Muslim and is a rare representative of the majority community in the Syrian leadership dominated by members of Assad's fellow Alawite community.
by RTT Staff Writer
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