Report: Assad´s inner circle plans defection if Syria unrest boils over (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Haaretz 06/22/12)
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Senior regime officials have reportedly established contact with
opposition groups and Western governments, while secretly moving
funds into foreign bank accounts.
Senior Syrian government officials are quietly preparing plans to
defect to the country´s opposition in the event that a 15-month
uprising in the country manages to destabilize the regime of
President Bashar Assad, the British newspaper Daily Telegraph
reported on Thursday.
“We are seeing members of Bashar Assad’s inner circle make plans to
leave,” an unnamed senior U.S. official told the newspaper.
According to the report, members of the regime have also established
contact with representatives of Western governments and begun moving
large sums of money into foreign bank accounts in Lebanon and China.
The report also quoted a senior member of the Syrian opposition, also
unnamed, who confirmed that opposition groups were seeking American
assistance in encouraging the defection of members of the regime.
“I know for sure there are some high-ranking officers who are waiting
for the right chance to defect," said the opposition member. “We have
names of people in the presidential palace. There are rumors that
there is one who is really close to the president and we are
expecting to see him out of the country soon.”
On Thursday, a colonel in the Syrian air force, Hassan Merei al-
Hamade, defected to Jordan. The colonel, a pilot, was sent on a
mission to attack the southern Syrian city of Daraa, but instead
landed his MiG 21 fighter jet in Jordan, where he was granted
According to the Telegraph, three other pilots on the mission also
considered defecting, but ultimately decided against it, fearing that
they would be turned away by Jordanian authorities.
The Syrian air force is considered particularly loyal to the Assad
regime, and defections from within its ranks could indicate that
cracks are emerging within the military. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz
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