Syrian Vice President Farouk Al-Sharaa has made his first public appearance in several weeks, ending rumors that he defected.
Sharaa was last seen at the funeral of four top Syrian government officials who were killed in a blast in Damascus on July 18. Since then, speculation has circulated that he defected to Jordan in what would have been a blow to Bashar Assad's regime. Jordan and Sharaa’s office repeatedly denied he defected.
On Sunday, reporters saw Sharaa exit his car and walk to his office for a meeting with Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of Iran’s powerful parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene said Sharaa looked serious and steered away from reporters covering the meeting. He did not make a statement.
On August 18th, Syria opposition official insisted that reports Sharaa has defected are genuine, and said he was being held under house arrest by the Syrian regime.
A Syrian National Council (SNC) official told Al Arabiya that a Syrian TV statement that “Sharaa never thought of leaving the country” was incorrect.
SNC legal office head Marwan Hji al-Rifai told Al Arabiya that Sharaa was under house arrest and like other “noble” people he had attempted defect to save his family.
Sharaa, 74, is the most powerful Sunni figure in the minority Alawite-led regime, and has served in top posts for almost 30 years. He has been Syria’s vice president since 2006.