News / Middle East

Another Syrian Official Defects

FILE - In this July 3, 2008 photo, Nawaf Fares, center, governor of the Quneitra, Syria, briefs a U.N. delegation visiting the city of Quneitra in the Golan Heights to investigate Israeli practices in occupied Arab lands.FILE - In this July 3, 2008 photo, Nawaf Fares, center, governor of the Quneitra, Syria, briefs a U.N. delegation visiting the city of Quneitra in the Golan Heights to investigate Israeli practices in occupied Arab lands.
x
FILE - In this July 3, 2008 photo, Nawaf Fares, center, governor of the Quneitra, Syria, briefs a U.N. delegation visiting the city of Quneitra in the Golan Heights to investigate Israeli practices in occupied Arab lands.
FILE - In this July 3, 2008 photo, Nawaf Fares, center, governor of the Quneitra, Syria, briefs a U.N. delegation visiting the city of Quneitra in the Golan Heights to investigate Israeli practices in occupied Arab lands.
Edward YeranianScott Stearns
The United States says military and diplomatic defections in Syria show a continuing "momentum building" against President Bashar al-Assad.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that desperation is growing within Mr. Assad's government.  On a trip to Cambodia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for tougher U.N. action against Damascus.

The U.S. comments come after Syria's ambassador to Iraq defected this week and joined the opposition.  Nawaf Fares is the highest-ranking Syrian official to switch sides since the uprising against Mr. Assad began 16 months ago.  A general of Syria's Republican Guard defected last week.

In a lengthy message broadcast on Arab satellite channels, the former ambassador urged Syrian government officials and military personnel to follow his lead and join the opposition.  "Where' he asked, 'is the honor of killing the people?"

The Latest Images From Syria (Click to Expand)

x
  • This image made from amateur video released by the Ugarit News shows a Free Syrian Army solider firing his weapon during clashes with Syrian government troops in Aleppo, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army soldiers at the border town of Azaz, 32 kilometers north of Aleppo, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • This image from amateur video released by the Ugarit News shows a Free Syrian Army solider driving a Syrian military tank in Aleppo, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network purports to show a helicopter gunship flying a bombing run in al-Qalmoun, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • This image provided by Shaam News Network shows smoke rising from Juret al-Shayah in Homs, Syria, July 23, 2012.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network purports to show damage from heavy shelling of the al-Qadam district of Damascus, Syria, July 23, 2012.
  • A member of the Free Syrian Army points his weapon through a hole in a wall as he takes up a defense position in a house in Qusseer neighborhood in Homs, Syria, July 16, 2012.
  • A woman holds a child in front of their destroyed home in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers northwest of Hama, July 14, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army soldiers aim their weapons in Idlib, northern Syria, July 13, 2012.
  • This image made from amateur video from Hama Revolution 2011 purports to show a funeral for victims killed in Tremseh, Syria, July 13, 2012. (AP/ Hama Revolution 2011)
  • This image made from amateur video from Hama Revolution 2011purports to show families gathered around bodies of victims killed in Tremseh, Syria, July 13, 2012.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army walk through Qusseer neighborhood in Homs, Syria, July 15, 2012.

The Latest Images From Syria (Click to Expand)

Fares reportedly left Baghdad for the Kurdish autonomous region before announcing his defection. Iraqi authorities reported that he is on a visit to Qatar.

Pressure mounting

Clinton says Syrian defections show pressure is mounting on President Assad to give up power.

"The economy is in shambles," she said. "The regime is struggling to hold on to large parts of the country. So we do look to the Security Council and all of its members, including Russia, to join us in a serious resolution that gives special envoy Kofi Annan what he needs."

Diplomats emerged from a private meeting of the U.N. Security Council Wednesday clearly divided on the council's next action to end the fighting between government forces and the opposition.

Envoy Annan briefed council members via video link on the round of talks on Syria he held earlier in the week in Damascus, Tehran, and Baghdad.  He later told reporters he had advised the council to speak with one voice, rather than divided, because a unified message is more powerful.

Annan also said he told the Security Council there should be consequences if the Syrian government and the opposition continue to ignore resolutions calling for an end to the fighting.

Clinton spoke with Annan this week and says she is encouraged that the U.N. and Arab League envoy is asking for a U.N. resolution that both endorses political transition and punishment for those who do not comply.

"The United States is determined to support him because our experience of the last year makes it absolutely clear that the Assad regime will not do anything without additional further pressure," she said.

Clinton woos China

Clinton met in Cambodia with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on the sidelines of a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Russia and China have previously vetoed tougher U.N. action against Damascus on the grounds that it could lead to military intervention. Russia vowed on Thursday to continue that stance.

But Clinton says the United States and China agreed to do everything they can to back a political transition that is endorsed by all five permanent members of the Security Council.

"And we call on the Syrian military and business community to choose a democratic future rather than to cling to this crumbling regime," she said.

Defections depend on West

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, says stronger action by the West would likely increase defections. Prominent Syrian officials have been slower to defect than their Libyan counterparts during last year's Libyan revolution, he said, in part because the West has been less keen to get involved in the conflict.

"The fact that an ambassador defected after 16 months means that the uprising is still gathering momentum,"  he said. "I think the main hurdle in Syria that has prevented major defections was the lukewarm reaction of the West. In Libya, the West interfered immediately and that accelerated the pace of defections," Khashan said.

In Syria on Thursday, witnesses say Syrian government troops fired mortar shells into fields and orchards separating the Damascus district of Kafr Souseh from a neighboring area.  Analysts say it was the first time part of the capital has come under shell fire.

Syrian government forces also shelled a district in the embattled city of Homs for another day.  Amateur video showed clouds of black smoke rising from burning buildings and badly damaged apartment blocks.

Stearns reported from Phnom Penh and Yeranian from Cairo.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Mike
July 12, 2012 5:09 PM
Escape from Syria the Syrian senior officials testify about the fall of the Assad regime in the near future. The efforts of Russia and China to save the power of his friend from the club of dictators have failed.


by: Melisa from: Maine
July 12, 2012 4:23 PM
I am with Laura from Ohio... we are very happy for the Arabs but keep them away from US!!! we do not want to see more Muslimes here. so, please, stay in muslimes countries. Thank you


by: Eric from: USA
July 12, 2012 3:36 PM
Laura, im' not sure what you mean by that? "As long as you keep them away from here, we are happy" ?? Who says that? On a human level, any act of oppression, no matter where it occurs, should be viewed with concern. This is a global problem, because whether you like it or not, it does have a long term impact, even to us on this end of the pond....


by: Steve from: California
July 12, 2012 3:27 PM
How did Syria "blast" defection of Ambassador to Iraq? Despite this article's title, the article addresses all but Syria's reaction to the defection. Maybe there should have been a different title?


by: Randall from: San Francisco
July 12, 2012 3:10 PM
there's absolutely nothing in the article that describes or explains it's headline. What kind of journalism is this rag displaying?


by: Swami from: NYC
July 12, 2012 3:04 PM
So why is the article titled "Syria Blasts Defection..." if there is not one single reference to anything said by the government of Syria?

The only "blasting" being done by Syria here appears to be in the literal sense.


by: MortimerSnerd from: Canada
July 12, 2012 2:17 PM
... see the rats are beginning to flee a sinking ship. Assad lives in la-la land, and he's kinda like the band that played on while the Titanic was going down. ...the 'establishment' however, is beginning to realize that unless they bail out now they may not be able to later.


by: John from: Taifa
July 12, 2012 1:11 PM
It is a known fact that Fares is a SUNNI, the majority sect of muslims being supported by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to overthrow the secular regime in Syria. The fact that Assad an Alawite kept him and all other religious in his regime shows how power was shared.


by: Colin Wellstead from: Sydney
July 12, 2012 12:49 PM
I wonder how much that cost the US Government


by: Michael from: USA
July 12, 2012 10:33 AM
If Monsieur Fares was really 'in' the establishment, inside, then how did he come to see it objectively as a tool for oppression? By thought? By discussion?

Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid