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Syrian government spokesman flees country, diplomat says

Published on Dec 4, 2012 6:01 AM
 
Syria's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jihad al-Makdissi speaks during a news conference in Damascus in this July 23, 2012 file photo. Mr Makdissi, who was the most public face of Bashar Al-Assad's government as it battled a 20-month-old uprising, has defected and fled the country, a diplomat in the region said on Monday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

CAIRO/BEIRUT (REUTERS) - A Syrian foreign ministry spokesman, who was the most public face of Bashar Al-Assad's government as it battled a 20-month-old uprising, has defected and fled the country, a diplomat in the region said on Monday.

Mr Jihad al-Makdissi, who is in his 40s, previously worked at the Syrian embassy in London and returned to Damascus a year ago to serve as spokesman for the ministry, defending the government's crackdown on the revolt against Mr Assad's rule.

He had little influence in a system largely run by the security apparatus and the military. But Mr Assad's opponents will see the loss of such a high profile figure, if confirmed, as further evidence of a system crumbling from within.

Rebel forces have made advances in recent weeks, seizing several military bases including some outside the capital Damascus.

 
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