BEIRUT - Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a television interview on Wednesday that his government had been aware some officials were trying to defect and allowed them to leave unhindered.
"Sometimes we had information (on defections) and we would discuss it. Some would suggest we stop them. But we said no, stopping them isn't the right thing to do, letting them leave is the right thing to do ... let's facilitate their exit," he told Syria's Addounia TV.
Assad, who is struggling to put down a 17-month-old revolt, said such officials should be allowed to leave because it was "cleaning" the state of unpatriotic officials.