Assad considering political asylum in Latin America if toppled: report


The embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is considering the possibility to claim political asylum for himself, his family and his close circle in Latin America if he has to cede power, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

“Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister held meetings in Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador over the past week, and brought with him classified personal letters from Assad to local leaders,” the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported.

Some Western and Arab countries have previously offered embattled Syrian President Assad to seek asylum and protection for his family if he leaves power.

But the window of opportunity seems to be closing for him. On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hinted that he would not favor an asylum deal for Assad as a way to end the country’s civil war.

Ban was asked Wednesday about the potential for such a deal. He refrained to comment directly on the matter but told The Associated Press that the United Nations doesn't allow anyone “impunity.”

Ban says that “whoever commits (a) gross violation of human rights must be held accountable and should be brought to justice. This is a fundamental principle.”

Ban spoke on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks in Qatar.

Assad vowed in an interview with Russia Today last month that he would never be forced into exile and that he would “live and die in Syria.”

‘Desperate’ Assad and chemical weapons

With news of Syria’s former foreign ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi, defecting on Monday and leaving the country most probably to the United States, prospects of the downfall of Syrian regime are growing.

The United States is worried that an increasingly desperate Assad could resort to the use of chemical weapons, or lose control of them, Reuters reported U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying on Wednesday.

After a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at which the Western military alliance agreed to send Patriot anti-missile batteries to Syria’s neighbor, Turkey, Clinton said Washington had made clear to Syria that use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” for the United States.

The Syrian regime said chemical weapons will never be used against civilians even if the regime had full ownership of the Syrian people and the country.