Syria ambassador to Iraq defects

Syria ambassador to Iraq defects


forces against a 16-month uprising.
In exclusive statement to Al Jazeera, Nawaf al-Fares said that his decision came in the wake of what he described as horrible massacre committed against the Syrian people by the regime.
"I announced my resignation as Syrian ambassador to Iraq as I also declare my defection from the Syrian Baath party," said Fares on Wednesday.
"I urge all honest members of this party to follow my path because the regime has turned it [the party] to an instrument to kill people and their aspiration to freedom."
Fares also called upon the military to join the ranks of the Syrian revolution, pointing out that such a move would help defend the homeland against any foreign enemy and "not the killing of the people".
He also urged all Syrians to come together and be patient in front of what he called attempts by the regime to divide them.
A veteran of Assad's rule who held senior positions under the late president Hafez al-Assad, Fares is from Deir al-Zor, the eastern city on the road to Iraq, which has been the scene of a ferocious military onslaught by Assad forces.
'Political blow'
Unlike earlier defections, such as that of Manaf Tlas, a Syrian general and personal friend of Assad, Fares's defection deals a harsh blow to the Syrian government.
"People are losing confidence in the Assad regime," Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics told Al Jazeera.
"If you go outside Aleppo or Deraa or Hama, [the rebels] are extremely focused," Gerges said.
"But if you position the opposition outside Syria, then we're not really talking about an alternative to the Assad regime.
"The writing is not on the wall, but the signs tell me that time is not on the side of the Assad regime... There's an economic war, psychological war. That's why the defection today represents a moral and political blow."
Mohamed Sermini, a member of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition umbrella group, described the ambassador's defection as the beginning.
"This is just the beginning of a series of defections on the diplomatic level. We are in touch with several ambassadors," said
Fares, a Sunni who is said to have close ties to Syrian security, is the second senior diplomat to quit the embattled government. The first was Bassam Imadi, who was the Syrian ambassador to Sweden until December.

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