Syria’s ambassador to the UAE has defected from President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to leave to Qatar, sources told Al Arabiya on Wednesday.
Abdelatif al-Dabbagh joined his wife, Lamya al-Hariri, who is also a defected Syrian ambassador to Cyprus, in Qatar.
Reuters also reported Syrian National Council’s members as saying that Dabbagh has defected on Wednesday.
“The ambassador (Abdelatif al-Dabbagh) is now in Qatar,” SNC spokesman Mohammad Sarmini told Reuters by telephone, referring to the ambassador to the UAE.
Meanwhile, a high-level source told AFP, that Hariri has defected but there was no confirmation that Dabbagh did.
Hariri, a Sunni Muslim from the southern province of Deraa, the birthplace of the 16-month-old uprising, is the niece of Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa, whose role is ceremonial in a power structure dominated by Assad’s Alawite minority sect.
If Dabbagh has defected, he will be the third ambassador to do so after his wife’s defection on Tuesday. Syria’s ambassador to Iraq, Nawaf Fares, was the first ambassador to defect. Fares called on Syrian soldiers to follow his lead and turn their guns on the Damascus leadership.
Fares, who is a Sunni tribal figure from eastern Syria, defected to Qatar through Jordan two weeks ago, according to diplomatic sources.
Assad’s regime is under pressure as defection has been on the rise. Defection of brigadier General, Munaf Talas, on Tuesday was a big blow to the regime as he was close to Assad’s inner circle.
Lavrov accuses U.S.
In a related story, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States on Wednesday of justifying terrorism against the Syrian government and berated Western nations he said had not condemned attacks that killed top members of President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle.
Referring to what he said were comments by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland indicating such attacks were not surprising given the Syrian government’s conduct, Lavrov said, “this is a direct justification of terrorism.”
He also criticized the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, saying she had argued that the attacks in Damascus meant the U.N. Security Council had to agree a sanctions resolution against Syria last week that Russia later vetoed.
“In other words, to say it in plain Russian, this means ‘we (the United States) will continue to support such terrorist acts for as long as the U.N. Security Council has not done what we want’,” Lavrov said.
Russia has repeatedly rejected accusations Moscow is backing Assad’s regime in the crisis, claiming it has an even-handed approach while rebuking the West for siding with the rebels.