WH: Syrian defections 'crack' in regime

March 9, 2012 at 2:15 PM
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ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE, March 9 (UPI) -- Reports of defections from the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad are an indication of "cracks" in the regime, a White House spokesman said Friday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Richmond, Va., the reports, if true, "are an indication of something that the United States and the international community have said many times and continue to believe is true."

Syria's deputy oil minister appeared to defect Thursday in an online video, and two Syrian army generals and a colonel said Friday they fled across the border into Turkey because they disagree with what's happening in their country.

"It's certainly a sign that there are significant cracks in the Assad regime and they do lend some evidence to something that we've said for some time now, which is that Assad -- that a democratic transition will take place in Syria -- I should say a political transition will take place in Syria that will end with Assad no longer in power," Earnest said.

He said the United States is interested in "working with the 'Friends of Syria' and the international community to support the Syrian people and their aspirations."

He said the goal is to get the Assad regime to "stop their violence against innocent civilians and respect the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people."

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