Members of Syrian Bashar Assad’s inner circle are covertly planing to defect and join the opposition should the Syrian regime become critically threatened by the rebellion, according to unnamed US sources in a report by The Daily Telegraph on Friday. The report could not be verified.

According to the report, senior Syrian military commanders have outlined “exit strategies” and are making direct contact with rebel forces to ensure that they will be welcomed and not persecuted.

The report follows a key defection on Thursday of a Syrian air force colonel. The Colonel was the first senior officer to defect using an aircraft, after abandoning a mission to attack the city of Dera’a and landing his MiG 21 fighter jet in Jordan.

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