Syrian Vice President Defected-Opposition.
Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa was held under house arrest by Assad's regime, but escaped it, following other "noble" people who defected in recent months, a spokesman for the Syrian National Council told Al Arabiya.
The Syrian state news agency SANA earlier dismissed reports about defection of Sharaa (whose name is also Latinized as "Shara" or "Sharie"), citing a spokesman for his office in Damascus.
But the opposition spokesman said that Sharaa never had an office in the Syrian capital. The discrepancy could not be immediately reconciled, and Sharaa has made no public statements as of Saturday evening.
A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, the main insurgency group in the country, said on Friday that the official Damascus was planning to kill Sharaa and blame his death on the rebels. The claim could not be independently verified.
No officials of Sharaa's rank have yet defected Assad since the start of unrest in the country in March 2011. Between 18,000 and 20,000 people, according to independent estimates, were killed in the conflict, which was internationally recognized as a civil war.
Sharaa, 74, is the highest-ranking Sunnite in a country run by an Alawite minority. He was a close ally of Assad's father, the late President Hafez Assad, and served as a foreign minister for 22 years before becoming a vice president in 2006. (Cihan/Ria Novosti)
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