Breaking: Syria’s Latest and Highest-Level Defections

In a way, one could say that the defection on Sunday of Mohammad Ahmad Faris, a Syrian air force pilot who was Syria’s first man in space, is the highest-level Syrian defection.

But politically — and politically very damaging to the Syrian regime — the highest level defection thus far appears to be the one reported by several news sources this morning.

According to the New York Times, Syrian opposition leaders are reporting that Prime Minister Riyad Farid Hijab has defected to Jordan along with at least two ministers and three military officers — 10 families in all.

The identities of the other ministers are not known at this time.

Hijab had only been appointed to the high-level position less than two months ago.

Perhaps trying to soften the blow and embarrassment to the Syrian regime, Syrian sources claim that Bashar al-Assad had already fired Hijab.

This additional bad news to the regime comes just a few hours after a bomb explosion was reported at the main state television building in Damascus and while fighting continues to rage in Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, and elsewhere in the country.

According to the BBC, Hijab’s spokesman Mohammed el-Etri told al-Jazeera TV that he was in a safe location:

“I address you today at this grave hour where the country is living under the brunt of genocide and barbarian brutal killing against unarmed people who are simply demanding freedom and a dignified life,” ran the statement read by his spokesman.

“Today I declare… that I have defected from the terrorist, murderous regime and [am] joining the holy revolution. And I declare that from today I am a soldier of this holy revolution.”

Read more here and here

Image: www.shutterstock.com

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Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

  • slamfu

    More good news about the impending fall of Assad. Another dictator about to bite the dust. I know we don’t have much info on the nature and make up of the rebels, or who is going to take over after Assad finally throws in the towel, but I remain hopeful. With any luck it will have an election, which will no doubt put in power Muslim groups with strong religious backers and ideals. Unlike many of my fellow Americans I don’t consider that a failure as long as the democratic process was used to get those results.

    Something about the fighting in Syria has stirred something in me. Did our ancestors feel this way when they were fighting the British? I see a population rising up against a well armed and organized professional army, and winning in classic ways. Assad is stuck in islands of authority, with too many rebels to hit them all at once, and never enough in one location to be a deathblow even when he wins. You really can’t beat a true popular uprising in the long run. My pity for the dead in this ordeal, but my respect for those who are giving their all in the overthrow of a dictator. I hope this bloody path leads to a better tomorrow for Syria in the decades to come, and wonder if they will have a Washington monument of their own in Damascus some day.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    I would say that is a pretty good analysis — and observations — Slamfu. With so many factions and alliances (tribal, religious and otherwise) that go back hundreds if not thousands of years in this part of the world, it is very difficult to know on whom to put your money and to predict what the long term results will be with whichever side one takes. (look at Libya, Egypt, even Afghanistan). But, on the other hand, one –we, the US and the “civilized” world — can not idly stand by and watch the massacre continue because we may help “the wrong side.” (I know, some will say, “let them kill each other.”)

  • Rcoutme

    DDW–in what POSSIBLE way could we aid the innocent? We were warned by our founding politicians to stay out of foreign wars for a reason: we suck at it!

    We have a military that is truly awesome at offensive operations (meaning attack). Where we lose is when we try to deal with the aftermath of conflict. We fought Native Americans nearly to extinction, yet we seemingly never managed to get the corruption out of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (just ask John McCain, who has been advocating for them for…all his life?)

    We can only cause harm in Syria. We should, by all means and capacity, try to prohibit the government from receiving any aid/weapons/legitimacy. We should use the UN to sanction and plead with the Syrian leadership. We could even (very, very clandestinely) send humanitarian aid to the rebels. As far as I am concerned, that is the absolute limit that we should stretch out to the people in this conflict.

    I hate war; I hate the idea of war; I hate (especially) the tragic consequences of war. Being an active participant in a conflict that has nothing to do with protection of our nation has been and always will be a mistake. Just ask Sun Tsu.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    RC:

    I do not think that either Slamfu or I are proposing the use of our military in Syria. There are numerous ways to defend and help those who are being slaughtered and to support those who are fighting against a murderous regime, short of using our military forces, but up to and including — as a last resort — providing arms tho those who we believe can do the greatest damage to the regime and the greatest good to the country and its people — afterwards. Not easy, I grant you..

  • Rcoutme

    DD, then your wish is granted. The US is aiding in some of the ways I listed.

  • The_Ohioan

    There is now a report that the wealthy families are slipping out of Syria in the dead of night. That’s the final sign of Assad’s eventual fall. We may not be happy with the new rulers in Egypt, Lybia, or Syria, but we have not lost precious lives in a doomed effort to change the outcomes.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Good article here on exactly what we have been commenting on:

    The challenge for the United States and its partners is not just to step up the pressure, but also to prepare the ground for a constructive future for Syria.

    [::]

    For months, the administration has been increasing its involvement with the rebels — organizing a 130-nation pressure group, working to unify opposition factions, helping them plan a political transition, providing intelligence and medical aid and vetting which groups are extremists and which should get arms