News / Middle East

Syrian Defections Begin to Mount

Nawaf Fares, Syria's Ambassador to Iraq, in a picture taken December 7, 2006.
Nawaf Fares, Syria's Ambassador to Iraq, in a picture taken December 7, 2006.
In the last week, Syria's ambassador to neighboring Iraq and the commander of an elite Syrian Republican Guard unit have defected from President Bashar al-Assad's government.

The two join a growing number of high-ranking members of Syria's Sunni minority who have left the country recently, highlighting the increasingly sectarian nature of the 16-month-old conflict.

Here's a look at some recent deserters from Syria's political and military establishment:

Ambassador Nawaf Fares - July 11

Fares became the first Syrian envoy to defect from Mr. Assad's government since the uprising broke out in March 2011.

In a statement broadcast on the Arab-language satellite channel Al-Jazeera, the diplomat announced he had joined the opposition and resigned from Syria's ruling Ba'ath party. He urged "all honest members" of the party to follow his path "because the regime has turned it into an instrument to kill people and their aspirations to freedom and dignity." Fares also called on the Syrian military to "turn your guns on the criminals" of the government.

The Syrian foreign ministry said Thursday that Fares, who has close ties to the security services, has been relieved of his duties and should face "legal and disciplinary accountability." Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Fares is now in Qatar, one of the Gulf states overtly supporting the rebels and calling for Mr. Assad's ouster.

Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass - July 6
Like Fares, Tlass was part of Syria's privileged Sunni elite in a government dominated by President Assad's minority Alawite sect. He is the son of an even more prominent general, former Syrian defense minister Mustafa Tlass, a confidant of President Hafez al-Assad, Mr. Assad's late father.

The highest-ranking military officer to have abandoned the Syrian government, Tlass was a member of the inner circle of power in Syria, and a childhood friend of Mr. Assad. He is reportedly headed for Paris, where his family and much of the Syrian political opposition is based, or is already there. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday Tlass has been in contact with the Syrian opposition but members of the exile Syrian National Council say it is not yet clear whether he will join the rebels.

Col. Hassan Hammadeh - June 21
The Syrian fighter pilot flew his MiG-21 warplane to neighboring Jordan, where he was given asylum in a defection from what is known to be Syria's fiercely loyal air force. Hammadeh had been on a training mission.

Imad Ghalioun - January 2012
Ghalioun, a member of Syria’s parliament, left the country to join the opposition, saying the Syrian people are suffering sweeping human rights violations.

Adnan Bakkour - August 2011
Bakkour, the former attorney general of the central city of Hama, appeared in a video in late August 2011 announcing he had defected.

These five join a wave of Sunni Muslim soldiers who have abandoned the Syrian army, many fleeing for neighboring Turkey or joining rebel fighters on the front lines. Thousands of soldiers have been killed or imprisoned because they attempted to escape and failed, or were suspected of planning to do so.

Mark Snowiss

Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Alister from: UK
July 12, 2012 4:27 PM
with all the jubilation... let us not forget that all of these guys are war criminals... these are the refuse of that legitimized the corruption and decay of Assad...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid