Entries in Defections (13)


Daughter of Cuban Vice President Defects to US

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The adult child of a top Cuban official has found a new home in the U.S.

Glenda Murillo Diaz, 24, made the decision to defect two weeks ago by entering Laredo, Texas from Mexico.  She now lives in Tampa, Fla., where the Republicans are holding their national convention to nominate Mitt Romney for president.

Diaz is the daughter of Cuban Vice President Marino Murillo Jorge.  While he is one of the country's seven vice presidents, Murillo Jorge also belongs to the political bureau of the Cuban Communist Party.

Put in charge of enacting economic reforms in Cuba, that have been slow in coming, it's believed that Murillo Jorge might also have a shot at becoming the president once Raul Castro decides to step down from power.

His daughter's defection might change all that, however.

Many Cubans who've decided to leave their homeland take advantage of a law that allows them to remain on U.S. soil.  It appears Murillo Diaz has done the same.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former Syrian PM Makes First Public Comments Since Defection

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images(AMMAN, Jordan) -- Speaking for the first time since he defected to Jordan last week, Syria's former prime minister announced on Tuesday he's joined the rebels in their 17-month quest to out President Bashar al-Assad.

"We will do everything we can to liberate these people and to, for the return of the displaced to their homes -- dignified, victorious on the land of Syria.  Long live Syria," Riad Hijab said through a translator.

Since the conflict between government and rebel forces began in March 2011, an estimated 20,000 people have died in Syria.

Hijab urged other top officials to join the rebel cause and said Assad's days are numbered.

"The regime is collapsing -- morally, financially, economically and military broken," he said.

He also thanked Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey -- supporters of the country's Sunni insurgency -- for helping the rebels take on the regime.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Syrian Prime Minister Took Longer to Defect than First Reported

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/GettyImages(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- The high-profile defection of former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad al-Hijab didn't happen when everyone was told about it.

Al Jazeera reported last Monday that al-Hijab, along with other ministers, military officials and their families, fled to Jordan, as the ex-prime minister said that he was through supporting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in its attempt to crush an 18-month-long rebellion.

The information came from the main rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, but as it turned out, the news was intended as a smoke screen because transporting al-Hijab and his entourage was more involved and dangerous than first believed.

To help facilitate the escape, the Free Syrian Army assisted the renegade Syrian official by using decoy cars and convoys to confuse the Syrian military who were thought to be looking for al-Hijab.

By Wednesday morning, the mission appeared accomplished as the minister for Jordan's media affairs declared that the former prime minister and the others had safely crossed the border into their country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab Defects to Jordan

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab has defected to Jordan with his family, his spokesman announced on Monday.

In a statement read by his spokesman Mohammed el-Etri on Al Jazeera, Hijab said, "I announce today my defection from the killing and terrorist regime and I announce that I have joined the ranks of the freedom and dignity revolution.  I announce that I am from today a soldier in this blessed revolution."

El-Etri told Al Jazeera the defection had been planned for months and was carried out in collaboration with the Free Syrian Army.

The news comes after Syrian state TV reported Hijab had been fired from his post after assuming the position just two months ago.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Another Top Syrian Diplomat Defects

Alessio Romenzi/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The Syrian government suffered another major diplomatic setback on Monday with the defection of its top envoy to Britain.

In a statement, Britain's foreign office said that Khaled al-Ayoubi, the chargé d’affaires at the Syrian embassy in London, "is no longer willing to represent a regime that has committed such violent and oppressive acts against its own people, and is therefore unable to continue in his position."

While losing al-Ayoubi certainly won't affect the ground war the Syrian government has waged against opposition forces over the past 17 months, it again shows the deteriorating state of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, once believed to be impervious to any internal strife.

The defections have been picking up steam as of late, with senior military figure Manaf Tlass refusing to remain part of al-Assad's government, along with the former ambassadors to Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

Syria has become increasingly isolated even as the international community has resisted providing military support for al-Assad's enemies.  Russia and China remain Damascus' closest allies but wary of al-Assad taking extreme steps against his own people, including the use of chemical weapons.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Syrian Ambassador to Iraq Defects

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- Numerous members of the Syrian military, including several top generals, have defected in the wake of their country’s 16-month violent anti-government uprising, but President Bashar al-Assad suffered a diplomatic loss on Wednesday when his ambassador to Iraq announced his defection in Baghdad.

Ambassador Nawaf al-Fares is the first senior diplomat to leave Assad’s embattled government.  

In a statement released to Al Jazeera, al-Fares said, “I announced my resignation as Syrian ambassador to Iraq as I also declare my defection from the Syrian Baath party.  I urge all honest members of this party to follow my path because the regime has turned it to an instrument to kill people and their aspiration to freedom.”

“I also declare from this moment that I have joined the ranks of the revolution, a place where I should be at this critical time which Syria is going through,” al-Fares concluded.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, says the United States is joining several European nations in calling for Assad to comply with U.N. Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace proposal and implement an immediate ceasefire or face the consequences.  Those consequences include U.N.-authorized sanctions.  

Key Syrian allies, Russia and China, have not yet given their support for a U.N. resolution for sanctions.

Ambassador Rice says Iran is also complicating matters because it continues to support and aid the Assad government.

Syrian opposition forces say more than 17,000 people have been killed in the uprising against the Assad government.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Top Syrian General Defects; Turkey Recovers Pilots Downed by Syria

Alessio Romenzi/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- There have been numerous defections by members of the Syrian military during the country’s 16-month-long uprising, but President Bashar al-Assad suffered a personal embarrassment on Thursday when a general who was once a close adviser reportedly defected.

The Telegraph reports Brigadier Gen. Manaf Tlas, the top commander of Syria’s elite Republican Guard who also served as a member of Assad’s inner circle, has fled to Turkey.

The newspaper says a pro-Syrian government website confirmed Tlas had fled to Turkey, but downplayed the significance of his defection.  A security official was quoted as saying, “His escape does not mean anything.”

The report says Gen. Tlas comes from one of the most famous families in Syria.  

Opposition forces claim 15 generals have defected and joined the rebels in recent months.

Meanwhile, Turkey says it has recovered the bodies of two pilots whose jet was shot down by Syria on June 22.  A nationally-televised state funeral for the two is set for Friday.  The downing of the jet has strained relations between the two countries.

The pilots’ bodies and part of their jet’s wreckage was located with the help of oceanographer Robert Ballard and his team aboard the deep-sea exploration vessel Nautilus.  Ballard, of course, is best known for locating the wreck of the Titanic.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dozens of Syrian Soldiers Defect

Alessio Romenzi/AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- The 16-month conflict between the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces shows no signs of ending anytime soon, but 85 members of Syria’s military have apparently had enough.

Turkish state TV reported on Monday that 85 Syrian soldiers, including a general, have defected from the Syrian Army and fled into Turkey. 

Other Syrian soldiers have defected in the past, but the size of Monday’s group indicates there is growing uneasiness about the Syrian military’s efforts against anti-government forces.

The conflict has claimed more than 15,000 lives.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


High-Ranking Syrian Military Officers Defect to Turkey

Alessio Romenzi/AFP/Getty Images(ANKARA, Turkey) -- Turkey is still furious with Syria for shooting down one of its fighter jets last Friday, but it is more than glad to accept Syrian military defectors.

In the latest sign that there's trouble within the ranks, a Syrian general, two colonels, two majors, one lieutenant and 33 soldiers have sought asylum in Turkey, according to state TV there.

Another report says that many of the soldiers brought family members with them, making at least 224 people who are looking to escape the violence in their country.

Until now, most military members who have left Syria have been low-level defectors.

The current group was brought to a refugee camp in the Turkish province of Hatay.  All told, there are an estimated 33,000 Syrians now living in Turkey, who have fled the 16-month-long government crackdown that one group claims has cost more than 15,000 lives.

Meanwhile, Turkey awaits a response from NATO members meeting in Brussels on Tuesday about the downing of a F-4 plane in which two pilots were lost.  Ankara claims Syria shot down the aircraft over international waters without provocation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Lauds Syrian Pilot's Defection

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon on Thursday praised the bravery of a Syrian Air Force pilot, who defected to Jordan in a Russian-made fighter jet.

At a press briefing, spokesman George Little told reporters, "We have long called for members of the Syrian armed forces and members of the Syrian regime to defect and abandon their positions rather than be complicit in the regime's atrocities."

Little was unable to say if the U.S. would be allowed to interview the pilot, identified as Col.l Hassan Merhi al-Hamadah by the Syrian Ministry of Defense.

The pilot isn't the first to desert the Syrian government and military, Little said, who predicted that others would follow suit as they reject the violent policies of President Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Hamadah won't have to worry about retribution from his country as Jordan quickly announced that it was granting him asylum.

While the pilot's motivation for defecting was not known, it's believed he may have been responding to a report that the air force was getting ready to use fighter jets against Syrians.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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