Friday, July 27, 2012

Syrian parliamentarian defects to Turkey

Ikhlas al-Badawi flees country blaming 'savage torture' of Assad regime as troops and armour build up around Aleppo, Friday 27 July 2012

"A Syrian parliamentarian representing the northern province of Aleppo has defected to Turkey, becoming the first member of the rubber-stamp assembly elected in May and dominated by President Bashar al-Assad's Ba'ath party to jump ship.

"I have crossed to Turkey and defected from this tyrannical regime … because of the repression and savage torture against a nation demanding the minimum of rights," Ikhlas al-Badawi told Sky News Arabia.

Opposition sources said Syrian troops and armour are amassing around the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's main commercial and industrial hub, to crush armed resistance to Assad that has been gathering momentum following a military crackdown on street demonstrations against his rule.

The authorities chose Badawi, a Sunni Muslim, to run for parliament on behalf of the "labourers and peasants" sector, a term for state-backed labour and farmers' unions who are guaranteed half the seats in the 250-seat assembly.

Badawi, a mother of six, was also a member of the Ba'ath party, which took power in 1963 military coup that destroyed the country's democratic institutions in favour of a Soviet-style political system dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam.

Intensified ground and aerial bombardment of Syrian cities by Assad's forces in recent weeks has prompted diehard Ba'athists and Assad's loyalists to defect......"

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