Syrian opposition claims former defense minister has defected

By REUTERS
September 5, 2013 06:14

Former Syrian Defence Minister General Ali Habib, a prominent member of President Bashar Assad's Alawite sect, has defected and is now in Turkey, a senior member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition told Reuters on Wednesday.

If his defection is confirmed, Habib would be the highest ranking figure from the Alawite minority to break with Assad since the uprising against him began in 2011.

It comes at a time when forces loyal to Assad have made progress against the rebels on the battlefield but face the possibility of a US military strike in response to a chemical weapons attack in Damascus for which Washington blames the Syrian leader.


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