Former Syrian minister of defense defects to Turkey

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Former Syrian minister of defense General Ali Habib has reportedly defected to Turkey. The Syrian government denies the reports; United States secretary of state John Kerry confirmed the defection during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on military intervention in Syria this afternoon.

According to reports, Habib had resigned from his position in 2011 in protest of the killing of civilians by government forces. Since then he has been under house arrest, but reports say he was able to escape and flee to the Syria–Turkey border. According to Kamal al-Labwani of the Syrian National Coalition as reported by Reuters, Habib had "Western help" to escape.

"Habib has managed to escape from the grip of the regime and he is now in Turkey, but this does not mean that he has joined the opposition. I was told this by a Western diplomatic official," said al-Labwani to Reuters.

On the country's state television channel, The Syrian government denied the reports saying, "There is no truth to what the media has reported on the travel of former defense minister Ali Habib Mahmoud outside of Syria and he is still in his home".

Habib is the highest ranking Syrian official to defect from the country since the uprisings began in 2011.


Some information contained in this article was obtained from television, radio, or live webcast sources. Reporter's notes and the broadcast source details are available at the collaboration page.