Syrian diplomats desert Assad | News | DW | 26.07.2012
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Syrian diplomats desert Assad

Two top Syrian diplomats have fled the Assad regime, which some say constitutes a further nail in the Syrian regime's coffin. Meanwhile, the battle in Syria has intensified, with both sides vying for the city of Aleppo.

Syria's ambassadors to the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus, who are also married, have defected to Qatar, a spokesmen for the opposing Syrian National Council (SNC) confirmed on Wednesday.

The husband and wife, Abdelatif al-Dabbagh, ambassador to the UAE and Lamia Hariri, ambassador to Cyprus, are the second and third diplomats to desert the regime of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the Syrian rebellion was first ignited16 months ago.

"The ambassador [Abdelatif al-Dabbagh] is now in Qatar," the SNC spokesman said.

The US cited the developments as fresh evidence that the Syrian regime's "days are numbered."

"Senior officials around the Assad inner circle are fleeing the government because of the heinous actions taken by Assad against his own people, and the recognition that Assad's days are numbered," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

"These defections serve as a reminder that the bottom is starting to fall out of the regime. It is crumbling and losing its grip on power,” added another high level State Department official.

Diplomatic tempers fray

Moscow, however, hit out anew at the United States for supporting the Syrian opposition, claiming that Washington's failure to condemn a bomb on July 18, in which four leading Syrian security officials were killed, amounted to no less than tacit justification of terror.

Russia also condemned the latest round of EU sanctions negotiated with respect to Syria this week, which enables inspections of sea and air vehicles bound for the country that are suspected of carrying weapons intended for use in Syria; the Kremlin argues that it amounts to a “blockade.” It has called for further scrutiny of the measures to confirm whether they adhere to international law.

Tensions between opposing blocs over Syria were cranked up a notch last week when Russia and China vetoed a Security Council resolution for the third time running.

The battle in Aleppo

The battle in Syria is increasingly becoming a battle for Aleppo.

The United States, Britain, France and Germany now say that they intend to clamp down on Damascus outside the council, although supplying the opposition with military aid has been ruled out by all parties.

Meanwhile on the ground in Syria, the fighting became ever more concentrated in Aleppo, as both the Syrian regime and the opposition ploughed more reinforcements into the battle raging in the country's second city. The fighting, which was fierce on Wednesday, continued overnight into Thursday

Violence broke out in several hotspots, including the Al Jamaliya neighborhood, Kalasseh, located in south Aleppo, where the opposition set a police station on fire. According to the Britain-based activists group, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Salaheddin neighborhood was also targeted overnight.

Helicopter gunships zoned in on neighborhoods in Aleppo well, said the Observatory, causing several fatalities. The organization put Wednesday's death toll at 143 throughout the country, including 75 civilians, 41 soldiers and 27 opposition forces.

sej/ccp (AFP, Reuters)

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