Assad may be seeking asylum in Latin America, Middle East

Syrian President Bashar al Assad. SOURCE: Syrian Parliament http://parliament.sy

Syrian President Bashar al Assad is reportedly seeking asylum in Latin America following a recent visit by a high-ranking Syrian Foreign Ministry official to Cuba, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Other countries in the Middle East region have also offered to “host Assad and his family” if he agrees to step down. 

“We are aware that some offers have been made…informally. But we don’t have any concrete offers,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner. 

Although the U.S. is urging Assad to abdicate his power, the State Department is adamant that Assad should be held “accountable” for the atrocities committed during the 21-month civil war.

“Our priority remains focused on ending the slaughter that Assad has been perpetrating, and facilitating an orderly and peaceful transition..[But] there’s clearly significant questions of accountability for the horrible abuses he’s committed against his own people,” said Toner. “No one’s getting a free pass here.”

Read more: U.S. threatens ‘actions’ against Assad if chemical weapons are deployed in Syria

Assad’s power appears to be weakening as opposition forces have expanded their control over key areas in Syria.

In yet another blow to Assad’s regime, a top Syrian Foreign Ministry official, Jihad Makdissi, reportedly defected to London shortly after the U.S. threatened Assad against using chemical weapons.

“This is obviously another sign of the regime crumbing from within as those closest to Assad are realizing that the end is nigh,” Toner said. “Certainly, we continue to encourage all regime officials and forces close to Assad to reject the horrific actions of that regime.”

However, Toner indicated that defection won’t protect Assad’s aides from being “held accountable” for the “horrific violence that’s taken place in Syria.”

“If you’re talking about issues of accountability, ultimately these are decisions that are going to have to be made by the Syrian people,” said Toner. 

According to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the violence in Syria has killed as many as 40,000 people – including many women and children – and forced more than 460,000 Syrians to seek refuge in neighboring countries, such as Jordan and Turkey.

 

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