The head of the Syrian embassy in Cyprus, Lamia al-Hariri, has defected to Qatar, Al-Arabiya TV reported on Tuesday.
According to Al Arabiya she has arrived in the Gulf state of Qatar.
Hariri’s defection is thereby the second of its kind following that of Nawaf Fares, who left for Qatar this month after publicly renouncing his post as ambassador in Iraq and joining the rebellion.
Meanwhile U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Washington would work closely with the Syrian opposition in its battle to force Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to hand over power.
After failing to win a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria after Russia and China imposed their vetoes, the United States is working outside the council to send “a clear message of support for the opposition”, she said.
“We do believe that it is not too late for the Assad regime to commence with planning for a transition to find a way that ends the violence and begin the serious discussions that have not occurred to date,” she told reporters.
Referring to heavy fighting in the country’s second city Aleppo, Clinton said: “We are well aware that the pace of events is accelerating inside Syria.”
“We have to work closely with the opposition because more and more territory is being taken and it will eventually result in a safe haven inside Syria which will then provide a base for further actions by the opposition,” she said.
The United States is also continuing to provide non-lethal assistance to the opposition to back its 16-month battle to oust Assad.
“We have every reason to believe this will be important in terms of communication principally, but also medical support,” Clinton told a press conference after talks with Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
She added the opposition also “has to be prepared. They have to start working on interim government entities.”
“They have to set up humanitarian response efforts that we can also support. They’ve got to safeguard the chemical and biological weapons that we know the Syrian regime has, and so there’s a lot to be done.”
“It’s important to look at these day-after issues,” Clinton said.
“We’re working across many of these important pillars of a transition that is inevitable. It would be better if it happened sooner both because fewer people would die or be injured, but also because it would perhaps prevent sectarian retribution,” she added.