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White House says two more Syrian envoys defected

(Xinhua)

10:38, July 26, 2012

WASHINGTON, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The White House on Wednesday said two more Syrian ambassadors had defected to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Cyprus.

"We can confirm the defections of Syrian ambassadors to both the UAE and Cyprus," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard the Air Force One en route to New Orleans in the U.S. state of Louisiana. Carney stopped short of identifying the two new defections.

He called the defections "another indication" that senior officials from the inner circle of Syrian President Bashar al- Assad are breaking with the government as the violence plaguing the country has entered its 17th month and is intensifying.

Brig Gen. Manaf Tlass, a commander in Syria's powerful Republican Guard and the son of former defense minister Mustafa Tlass, and Nawaf al-Fares, the Syrian ambassador to Iraq, announced their defections earlier this month.

Carney reiterated a call for al-Assad to step down to make way for a peaceful transition in his country, asserting "The longer al- Assad remains in power, the more deadly the situation becomes in Syria."

Government and rebel forces have been fighting for the past few days in Damascus, the Syrian national capital, and Aleppo, the second largest city in the country.

Russia and China, which vetoed last week a Western-proposed draft resolution threatening non-military sanctions against Syria, have advocated a negotiated settlement of the conflict by the Syrian parties and opposed any foreign interference.

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