In an interview with CNN, one of the top officials that recently defected from embattled president Bashar al-Assad’s regime said he favors a military intervention to dislodge the government there. The Syrian ambassador to Iraq, Nawaf al Fares defected last week and, since, appeared in the press to denounce his Assad’s 17-month crackdown against anti-government demonstrators — a conflict the Red Cross declared a full-blown civil war.
On CNN, Fares said Assad held sole power to make decions in a “totalitarian regime and a dictatorship.” He served the Assad family for 34 years but turned against them when his hopes for reform were dashed by “what happened in the last year during the holy revolution, all of the killing, the massacres, the refugees, and the declaration of war by Bashar al Assad against the Syrian people.”
Asked by CNN if he favored foreign military intervention, Fares said only force could topple Assad:
CNN: Do you want a military intervention in Syria by foreign powers?
FARES: This regime will not go without force. the suffering of the Syrian people is very great. And they want it to end by any way possible. I support military intervention because I know the nature of this regime. This regime will only go with force.
Watch the interview here:
His call came after reports last week of another massacre (some of the details have been called into question). Another army defector called for NATO airstrikes to assassinate Assad, but NATO seems to still be deferring to U.N. processes that are largely blocked by Syria’s ally Russia.
While the exiled representatives of the political opposition have been unable to unite, defections bolster their cause. In addition to Fares, a top general and Assad confidant defected two weeks ago, but failed to surface. Other generals, however, have joined the rebel leadership in Turkey, and, according to reports, “virtually none” of the 80,000 conscripts due to join the army this year reported for duty.
While Assad’s minority Allawite sect rules Syria, the military depends on the Sunni majority to fill its ranks. But many Sunnis are joining the opposition. Its strength was on display today with increased fighting in the once quiet capital, Damascus.