BAGHDAD, Iraq – Syria’s ambassador to Iraq Nawaf Fares has defected from the regime of embattled President Bashar al-Assad, an Arab diplomat in Baghdad told AFP Wednesday, July 11.
“He submitted a letter to the Iraqi MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs),” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
“They (Iraqi officials) will have a meeting tomorrow (Thursday). They are going to discuss sending him to another country.”
The United States said it could not confirm Fares’s defection, but White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters: “There have been a number of high-level defections in recent days and weeks, and they are simply the tip of the iceberg.”
“There have been many, many defections within the military leadership, within the government, and I think that is an indication of the fact that support for Assad is crumbling, internationally and internally. And that’s a welcome development.”
If confirmed, it would mark one of the highest-level defections from the Syrian regime since the uprising began in the country in March 2011, and comes barely a week after a top general defected.
General Munaf Tlass is thus far the most influential military officer to have abandoned the Assad regime.
An officer in the elite Republican Guard charged with protecting the regime, he is the son of former defense minister Mustafa Tlass, a close friend of Assad’s late father and predecessor, Hafez. – Agence France-Presse
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