Former Syrian Defence Minister General Ali Habib, a prominent member of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect, has defected and is now in Turkey, a senior member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition told Reuters on Wednesday.
Syrian President Bashar Assad with former Defence minister Gen. Ali Habib (centre) and Chief of Staff Gen. Daoud Rajiha in August 2010 (File photo)
Syria's President Bashar Assad with former Defense Minister Gen. Ali Habib (center) and Chief of Staff Gen. Daoud Rajiha in August 2 “Ali Habib has managed to escape from the grip of the regime and he is now in Turkey, but this does not mean that he has joined the opposition. I was told this by a Western diplomatic official,” Kamal al-Labwani said from Paris.
If his defection is confirmed, Habib would be the highest ranking Alawite figure to break with Assad since the uprising against his rule began in 2011.