Syrian spokesman defects

Cairo - Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi has defected from President Bashar al-Assad's government and has left the country, a regional diplomatic source said on Monday.

“He defected. All I can say is that he is out of Syria,” the source, who did not want to be named, told Reuters.

(File image) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Credit: Reuters

Makdissi, who belongs to Syria's Christian minority, staunchly defended Assad's crackdown on the 20-month revolt against five decades of autocratic rule by Assad and his late father.

A former diplomat, Makdissi is fluent in English, a rarity in the state apparatus shaped by xenophobic Baath Party ideology. But he had little influence in a system underpinned by the security apparatus in which the foreign ministry has no say.

Lebanon's al-Manar Television said earlier that Makdissi had been sacked for making statements which did not reflect official positions. - Reuters