Syrian ambassadors to Emirates, Greek Cyprus defect

July 25, 2012, Wednesday/ 13:44:00

Syria's ambassadors to the United Arab Emirates and Greek Cyprus, who are husband and wife, have defected to Qatar, spokesmen for the opposition Syrian National Council said on Wednesday.

They are respectively the second and third senior diplomats to join the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad since the revolt began 16 months ago.

"The ambassador (Abdelatif al-Dabbagh) is now in Qatar," SNC spokesman Mohammad Sarmini told Reuters by telephone, referring to the ambassador to the UAE.

Sarmini said Dabbagh is married to Lamia al-Hariri, Syria's ambassador to Greek Cyprus, who also defected to Qatar in coordination with her husband.

Hariri, a Sunni Muslim from the southern province of Deraa, the birthplace of the 16-month-old uprising, is the niece of Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa, whose role is ceremonial in a power structure dominated by Assad's Alawite minority sect.

Nawaf al-Fares, Syria's ambassador to Iraq, who is a Sunni tribal figure from eastern Syria, defected to Qatar through Jordan two weeks ago, according to diplomatic sources.