This just in:
And more ominously
James Bay just interviewed Nawaf Fares, the Syrian Ambassador to Iraq who recently defected. He said a number of very interesting things.
He said 95% of the Syrian people were opposed to Bashar al-Assad.
He said that booth Russia and Iran have people fighting there!
He said all the large explosions in Damascus were not the work of terrorist but of the regime. He said the explosion that struck the intelligence headquarters, most people got a 15 minute notice to get out of the building. that's how he knew it was the work of the regime. He said they had also done this sort of thing in Iraq,
This was said live on Inside Syria on Al Jazeera English a couple hours ago. I will post the video here if and when it becomes available.
Be sure to read my most important diary yet:
Does Syria's Assad have something on Kofi Annan?
This is what is driving events, its not about foreign fighters or armed terrorist groups
New Protests and Defection Today 14 July 2012
Damascus: anti government protest in Midan district chanting "Palestinian and Syrian are one" 14-7-2012
Here are my related diaries on Syria:
Does Syria's Assad have something on Kofi Annan?
Tremseh Massacre in Syria: What we know
BREAKING: ~227 reported massacred by Assad's forces in Tremseh, Syria today!
Syria: Is Assad regime on the verge of collapse?
BREAKING: Russian Warships reported in Syria
BREAKING: #Russia changing on #Assad but not as fast as conditions in #Syria
UN Observers say violence in Syria is Unprecedented
BREAKING: Defection of major Assad insider reported in Syria
BREAKING: WikiLeaks releases 2.4 million #Syria emails
When did "Never Again" become "Whenever?" | #Douma
BREAKING: Incredible mass rally in Aleppo, Syria today!
BREAKING: HRW releases torture report on Syria
BREAKING: Syrian General defects with 293 to Turkey
BREAKING: Items not in the MSM on Syria
My response to Phyllis Bennis: Where is the non-violent opposition in Syria?
BREAKING: Syrian Air Force attacks Douma, 10m from Damascus, thousands flee
BREAKING: As Syria Burns, UN Blows More Smoke
BREAKING: Kofi Annan to propose Syrian unity gov't sans Assad!
BREAKING: Douma, Syria under massive attack, another massacre feared
BREAKING: Another mass defection from Syrian army
BREAKING: #NATO says No War in #Syria shoot down of #Turkey jet
NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria
BREAKING: Turkey calls for NATO consult on downing of jet by Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian Officers Defect
UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria
BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout10:11 AM PT:
And from the Telegraph, we have this:
Exclusive interview: why I defected from Bashar al-Assad's regime, by former diplomat Nawaf Fares
The most senior Syrian official to defect from Bashar al-Assad's regime has told how the "tragic and unbelievable" destruction of his country moved him to join the growing opposition movement.
By Ruth Sherlock, Beirut
7:30PM BST 14 Jul 2012
Nawaf Fares, a former regime hardliner and security chief who was Syria's ambassador to Iraq, spoke out in an exclusive interview with The Sunday Telegraph yesterday - his first since announcing his dramatic decision to quit last week. As the first senior diplomat to abandon the government, it is thought his departure may pave the way for others to follow, leaving President Assad's regime even more exposed.
Yesterday, in a wide-ranging interview conducted by telephone from Qatar, where he has now sought refuge, Mr Fares made a series of devastating claims against the Assad regime, which he said was determined to be "victorious" whatever the cost.
* Jihadi units that Mr Fares himself had helped Damascus send to fight US troops in neighbouring Iraq were involved in the string of deadly suicide bomb attacks in Syria
* The attacks were carried on the direct orders of the Assad regime, in the hope that it could blame them on the rebel movement
* President Assad, who had a "violent streak" inherited from his father, was now living "in a world of his own"
"At the beginning of the revolution, the state tried to convince people that reforms would be enacted very soon," he said. "We lived on that hope for a while. We gave them the benefit of the doubt, but after many months it became clear to me that the promises of reform were lies. That was when I made my decision. I was seeing the massacres perpetrated no man would be able to live with himself, seeing what I saw and knowing what I know, to stay in the position."
Mr Fares's most damaging allegation is that the Syrian government itself has a hand in the nationwide wave of suicide bombings on government buildings, which have killed hundreds of people and maimed thousands more. By way of example, he cited the twin blasts outside a military intelligence building in the al-Qazzaz suburb of Damascus in May, which killed 55 people and injured another 370.
"I know for certain that not a single serving intelligence official was harmed during that explosion, as the whole office had been evacuated 15 minutes beforehand," he said. "All the victims were passers by instead. All these major explosions have been have been perpetrated by al-Qaeda through cooperation with the security forces."
Such allegations have been aired in general terms by the Syrian opposition before, and Mr Fares would not be drawn on what exact proof he had. He is, however, better placed than many to make such claims. One of the reasons for his rise in President Assad's regime was that he is a senior member of the Oqaydat tribe, a highly powerful clan whose population straddles the Syrian-Iraq border. Following the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, their territory became part of the conduit used by Syria to smuggle jihadi volunteers into Iraq, with Mr Fares playing an important role.
"After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the regime in Syria began to feel danger, and began planning to disrupt the US forces inside Iraq, so it formed an alliance with al-Qaeda," he said. "All Arabs and other foreigners were encouraged to go to Iraq via Syria, and their movements were facilitated by the Syrian government. As a governor at the time, I was given verbal commandments that any civil servant that wanted to go would have his trip facilitated, and that his absence would not be noted. I believe the Syrian regime has blood on its hands, it should bare responsibility for many of the deaths in Iraq."
He himself, he added, knew personally of several Syrian government "liaison officers" who still dealt with al-Qaeda. "Al-Qaeda would not carry out activities without knowledge of the regime," he said. "The Syrian government would like to use al-Qaeda as a bargaining chip with the West to say: 'it is either them or us'."
Mr Fares, who has six grown-up children, said he made his decision to quit five months ago, after a particularly bloody Friday, which has become the regular day for opposition protests. "The number of killings was unusually high that day, especially in my area, and that was the final straw - there was no hope any more," he said.
Mindful that such a display of disloyalty could lead to reprisals against his family, he slowly began getting his relatives out of the country. He himself was then smuggled out of Baghdad last week by the Syrian opposition. He declines to give details of the operation, but says he made a point of continuing his normal duties up to the last minute so as not to alert the authorities, who he suspected would have been monitoring his phone calls as a diplomat anyway.
Since his defection, he regretted, many cousins within his extended family had been questioned by Syrian intelligence, with some forced into hiding. However, any doubts he had harboured prior to jumping ship had gone after a final visit he made a month ago to his home city of Deir al-Zour, near the Iraqi-Syrian border.
"There was tremendous destruction there and thousands of people had been killed, many of them from my tribe," he said. "Life in the city was almost non-existent. What I saw there broke my heart, it was tragic and unbelievable, and if people there have not joined the uprising already, they will now. The majority of the tribe, I think, are already on the side of revolution."
Indeed, the last time he had spoken to President Assad, in a face-to-face meeting six months ago, the Syrian leader had asked him to use his influence in Deir al-Zour, promising him promotion if he did.
"He was saying that we should insist that this is a conspiracy from the West aimed at Syria," Mr Fares said. "I spoke with the local sheikhs and leaders, but the people's response was that you cannot trust Assad.
"I think he does believe it is a conspiracy against him, but he is now living in a world of his own."