Syrian President Bashar Assad's mother, Anisa Makhlouf, has fled Syria to the United Arab Emirates along with several other high-ranking regime officials due to the rebel advances toward Damascus, US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford told CNN.
Makhlouf, rarely seen but said to have an enormous behind-the-scenes influence on Assad's administration, has arrived in Dubai to "pay a visit to her daughter Bushra," an UAE official told the al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper.
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But Ford has a different explanation for Makhlouf's sudden travel-itch. "Members of the regime, little by little, are flaking off," he said. "They themselves know they are losing."
Assad family portrait. Bushra (UR), Makhlouf (LL) (Photo: Reuters)
The fighting is now so close to the Syrian capital, Ford said, that artillery fire can be heard from Assad's palace. "You can imagine what that does to their own spirits, their own morale," he added.
According to Ford, Assad's elder sister Bushra fled Syria after her husband, the deputy defense minister and the Syrian president's confidant, was killed in a rebel attack in July.
Ford added that Syria's former Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jihad Makdissi has fled Syria and has found asylum in the US. But Obama administration officials later denied Ford's statement and said that Makdissi is not in the United States.
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