Telegraph: Leading Syrians Prepare to Defect

Members of Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle ‘making secret plans to defect’ as Syria air force colonel abandons attack mission and flies MiG to Jordan.

By , Beirut, Suha Maayeh in Amman and Peter Foster in Washington

Telegraph.co.uk

Members of Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle are secretly making plans to defect to the opposition should the Syrian regime become critically threatened by the rebellion, US officials have told The Daily Telegraph.

Senior military figures are understood to be laying down “exit strategies” and establishing lines of communication with the rebels to discuss how they would be received if they deserted.

The Daily Telegraph understands that the pilots of three other MiGs on the mission also considered defecting, but were worried about being turned away.

Mr Assad is under intense pressure over the 15-month uprising, with world leaders considering offering the Syrian president an immunity deal to ensure he relinquishes power.

However, a senior US official in Washington said some of those closest to the Syrian leader were now preparing to flee. “We are seeing members of Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle make plans to leave,” the official said.

This has even included moving large sums of money offshore into Lebanese and Chinese banks and making contact with opposition elements and Western governments.

Read the rest of the article here: Telegraph.co.uk


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