The United States on Wednesday confirmed the defections of two more senior Syrian diplomats, describing this as further evidence that President Bashar al-Assad's days are "numbered."
"We can confirm the defections of Syrian ambassadors to both the UAE and Cyprus," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One. Earlier, sources had told AFP the two envoys had defected from the regime.
Carney said the move showed that "senior officials around the Assad inner circle are fleeing the government because of the heinous actions taken by Assad against his own people, and the recognition that Assad's days are numbered."
Earlier, a high-level source told AFP on condition of anonymity that Syria's charge d'affaires in Cyprus, Lamia Hariri, has defected from the regime.
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An opposition activist in the country confirmed that Hariri's husband, Syria's ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Abdel Latif al-Dabbagh, had also defected.
Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television said on Wednesday that Dabbagh had defected, though it did not say where he was.
But a senior State Department official confirmed to AFP that "Dabbagh has defected to Qatar and has joined the growing number of Syrians who are doing what is right for the Syrian people."
"These defections serve as a reminder that the bottom is starting to fall out of the regime. It is crumbling and losing its grip on power," the official added, asking to remain anonymous.
The string of defections come after Nawaf Fares, Syria's ambassador to Iraq, left for Qatar this month after publicly renouncing his post.