Senior Syrian diplomat quits London post and severs links to Assad regime
Syria’s most senior diplomat in London quits his post amid fighting
Joe Murphy Political Editor
30 July 2012
President Assad’s brutal regime in Syria was dealt a new blow today when its most senior diplomat in the UK resigned in protest at its “violent and oppressive” conduct.
Syrian charge d’affaires Khaled al-Ayoubi has been given protection by the British authorities after saying he was “no longer willing” to represent the Assad government during its crackdown on rebels.
His decision was announced as more than 200,000 people fled a bloody attack by government troops in Syria’s second city Aleppo, the United Nations said. Families left behind were suffering shortages of water, food and power.
Thousands were taking shelter in schools and other public buildings while others have joined an exodus to the countryside or across the border to Turkey, said Baroness Valerie Amos, the UN humanitarian chief.
The British Government said Mr al-Ayoubi’s decision represented the “revulsion and despair” of Syrians and urged others around the world to follow his example and abandon Assad.
An FCO spokesman said: “Mr al-Ayoubi has told us that he is no longer willing to represent a regime that has committed such violent and oppressive acts against its own people, and is therefore unable to continue in his position.
“Mr al-Ayoubi was the most senior Syrian diplomat serving in London. His departure is another blow to the Assad regime. It illustrates the revulsion and despair the regime’s actions are provoking amongst Syrians from all walks of life, inside the country and abroad.
“We urge others around Bashar Al-Assad to follow Mr al-Ayoubi’s example, to disassociate themselves from the crimes being committed against the Syrian people and to support a peaceful and free future for Syria.”
After a night of heavy shelling, State TV claimed the Army was in full control of the Salaheddine quarter of Aleppo which has a population of around 2.5 million. However rebel leaders denied the claim, and were able to escort foreign journalists to parts of the area.
Fresh fighting was under way North East of the city centre as State forces launched another major attack. Britain and other countries have expressed concern that it could lead to a massacre.
Baroness Amos, speaking in New York, urged the government and rebel forces to avoid civilian casualties. She said: “It is not known how many people remain trapped in places where fighting continues.”
American Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, visiting the Middle East, said the attack would be “a nail in the coffin” of President Bashar al-Assad. “What Assad has been doing to his own people and what he continues to do to his own people makes clear that his regime is coming to an end. It’s lost all legitimacy,” he said.
The battle for Aleppo, Syria’s commercial city, could be decisive for the Assad regime. Foreign Minister Walid Moualem said on a visit to Iran, Assad’s main ally, said the rebels in Aleppo were fighters ousted from Damascus: “So they moved on to Aleppo and I assure you, their plots will fail,” he said.