WASHINGTON - The White House said on Thursday that the defection of a Syrian ambassador showed that desperation was growing within Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and was a further sign that he was losing his grip on power.

"Those around him, both in his inner circle and more broadly in the military and governmental leadership are beginning to assess Assad's chances of remaining in power ... and making the choice that they will abandon him in favor of the Syrian people," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

Nawaf al-Fares, who was Syria's ambassador to Iraq, posted a video statement on Facebook that called on the army to "turn your guns on the criminals" of the government. Carney said he could not confirm reports that Fares was now in Qatar.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger