Syria sees new defections
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Demonstrators protest against the regime of Syria’s President al-Assad in Adlb. REUTERS photoNawaf al-Bashir, prominent Syrian opposition figure and leader of Syria’s largest tribe Al-Baqqara, Mahmud Suleyman Hajj Hamad, chief inspector of the Syrian Prime Ministry, and Enes Sueyd, the imam of the Bab-ı Sıbaa Mosque in the besieged city of Homs, have defected to Turkey and called on the international community to take urgent action to stop the massacres in Syria.
“The Arab League was supposed to come to Syria to protect us; however, they themselves need to be protected now. The snipers of the regime were wandering around before the eyes of the Arab League observers. So now we are calling on the U.N. Security Council to announce a no-fly zone in Syria and create a buffer zone there,” al-Bashir told journalists at a press conference held in Istanbul. The Syrian tribal chief said there were more than 1 million people belonging to his tribe and that because Syria shares a border with Turkey, many members of the tribe had moved across the border to Turkey.
Many Syrian bureaucrats are against the regime
Al-Bashir said he had been coerced to appear on state television in Syria to praise the reforms which President Bashar al-Assad said he had launched. “They threatened to kill my family and destroy our home if I didn’t appear on state television. I had to praise the so-called reforms of Bashar al-Assad with a gun pointed at my face. I apologize now to the Syrian people for lying to them,” al-Bashir said.
Al-Bashir was a key supporter of the Damascus Declaration, issued by opposition leaders in 2005 to press for reform. He said he had been interrogated by the security services more than 75 times.
Chief inspector of the Syrian Prime Ministry and Syrian Defense Ministry Mahmud Suleyman Hajj Hamad said he had left Syria on Dec. 20, 2011, and went to Egypt first.
“I took annual leave from my job on Dec. 20, and I used the school registration of my daughter in Cairo as an excuse to go abroad. Now I am in exile. There are many high-ranking bureaucrats like myself within the Syrian government. I believe that almost 80 percent of bureaucrats are against the bloody actions of the regime toward its own people, but they cannot easily leave Syria,” Hamad told Hürriyet Daily News in an interview.