Rebels Claimed Top-Ranking Sunni Had Fled
by Jason Ditz
Like most Syrian officials, Vice President Farooq al-Shara stopped making public appearances after the July 18 assassination of the nation’s defense minister. The rebels were quick to report that Shara, the top ranked Sunni official in the current government, had tried to defect and was under house arrest.
Which is news to Shara, who made an appearance today apparently meant primarily to dispel the rumors, saying that he had not defected nor was he under house arrest, and that he had never considered leaving.
Shara met with the head of the Iranian Parliament’s foreign policy committee, who is in the nation consulting during the ongoing civil war. His only comments were issued through an official statement from his office.
It isn’t clear how the rumors of Shara’s defection got started, but rebels seemed eager to push the idea as an attempt to play up the sectarian aspect of the civil war. The rebel leadership is exclusively Sunni, while President Assad and many of his top aides are members of the Alawite minority.