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Report: Top Syrians ready to flee

JTA

June 22, 2012 | 10:41 am

Demonstrators against Syrian President Bashar Assad in Hama on June 22. Photo by REUTERS/Shaam News Network

Demonstrators against Syrian President Bashar Assad in Hama on June 22. Photo by REUTERS/Shaam News Network

Syrian regime officials reportedly are setting up escape and defection routes.

The British Daily Telegraph on Friday quoted U.S. officials as saying that officials in dictator Bashar Assad’s inner circle have contacted figures in the opposition and Western governments and have begun transferring funds out of Syria.

Col. Hassan Merei al-Hamade, a pilot of a MiG combat aircraft, this week flew his plane to Jordan, and other MiG pilots may do the same soon, the newspaper said.

“It is obviously a significant moment when a guy takes a $25 million plane and flies it to another country,” Victoria Nuland, the state department spokesman, said in Thursday’s briefing.

The Assad regime has for 15 months attempted to crush an uprising, killing thousands of Syrian citizens.

Richard Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria who is no longer resident in the country, is in Istanbul in a bid to contact leaders in the country’s business community to join the opposition.

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