Syria's Ambassador to Iraq: I'm Joining the Revolution
Diplomat urges his countrymen to abandon Assad
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 12, 2012 3:26 AM CDT
Nawaf Fares, center, briefs a UN delegation in this 2008 photo.   (AP photo/Bassem Tellawi, File)

(Newser) – The Syrian ambassador to Iraq has defected, becoming the most senior diplomat to abandon the regime during its bloody 16-month uprising. "I'm announcing from this moment on that I'm siding with the revolution in Syria," Nawaf Fares said in a statement broadcast on al-Jazeera yesterday, denouncing Bashar al-Assad and calling on all Syrians to abandon his regime. "Where is the honor in killing your countrymen? The nation is all the people, not one person in particular," he said. "The allegiance is to the people, not to a dictator who kills his people."

The regime fired back today, reports the New York Times, announcing that Fares had been fired and "no longer has any link with the Syrian embassy in Baghdad." This is the second high-level Syrian defection in less than a week. Like Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, who fled Syria last week, Fares is a member of the privileged Sunni elite in a regime dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect.