Syrian Intelligence Chief Defects to Rebel Forces

July 16, 2012  

The head of Syrian intelligence has allegedly left the country and defected. His whereabouts are unknown.

The family of Rastam Ruzhilla, however, has reportedly left Syria for Jordan, according to a report in Arab media.

The high-ranking Syrian officer was one of President Bashar al-Assad’s closest confidantes.

Ruzhilla’s disappearance is the latest in a series of defections of top officials. Syrian Ambassador to Iraq Nawef Fares announced his resignation last week, defecting to the opposition forces.

“Where is the honor in killing your own people?” Fares said in a statement, “Where is national unity?” before leaving Iraq and moving to Qatar.

Two Syrian Air Force pilots handed themselves over to Jordanian authorities last month. One of the two, Col. Hassan Mirel al-Hamadeh, brought along a Russian-made MiG 21 fighter jet as a gift to the Jordanians.

Some 85 Syrian soldiers defected to Turkey two weeks ago, including a general and several other officers; one of the largest groups of Syrian army defectors to cross the border since the civil war began.

More than 18,000 people have died since the civil war was ignited in March 2011 by the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the Middle East.

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