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?"

  • 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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs