International

Syria's Ambassador To Iraq Says He Has Joined The Revolution

Marking him the most senior diplomat to defect from the Bashar Assad regime, Syria's ambassador to Iraq said he has joined the revolution.

Reuters reports that Nawaf Fares posted a video on Facebook announcing his resignation.

"I declare that I have joined, from this moment, the ranks of the revolution of the Syrian people," Fares said according to Reuters.

The AP, which reported the defection earlier quoting the opposition, says this is the second prominent Syrian to defect in less than a week. The AP adds:

"Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, an Assad confidant and son of a former defense minister, fled Syria last week, buoying Western powers and anti-regime activists, who expressed hope that other high-ranking defections would follow.

"Appointed to the Baghdad post four years ago, Fares was the first Syrian ambassador to Iraq in 26 years. Like Tlass, he is a member of the privileged Sunni elite in a regime dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect."

Reuters reports that in the video Fares did not say where he was, but a member of the Syrian opposition told the AP that Fares was headed to Turkey.

The New York Times reports that Burhan Ghalioun, a former leader of the Syrian National Council, the opposition group, said in a press conference in Moscow that he welcomed the move.

"We welcome the defection of the Syrian ambassador to Iraq," Ghalioun said according to the Times. "We have called upon high ranking officials whether in the military or in the diplomatic service to defect from this regime and join the revolution of dignity."

Syria has not confirmed the defection.

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