BEIRUT - Syria's ambassador to Iraq defected in protest at the military crackdown by President Bashar Assad's forces against a 16-month revolt, Syrian opposition sources said on Wednesday.

Nawaf al-Fares, who was closely linked to the security establishment, would be the first senior Syrian diplomat to defect. He is from Deir al-Zor which has been the scene of a ferocious military onslaught by Assad forces.

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