The most senior Syrian official in London defected, British officials announced on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Khaled al-Ayoubi, the charge d’affaires in London, told officials in the U.K. that he no longer supported President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Ayoubi becomes the latest Syrian official to defect since the uprising began 16 months ago.
“Mr. al-Ayoubi has told us that he is no longer willing to represent a regime that has committed such violent and oppressive acts against its own people,” the British Foreign Office told the AP. “We urge others around Bashar Al-Assad to follow Mr. al-Ayoubi’s example; to disassociate themselves from the crimes being committed against the Syrian people and to support a peaceful and free future for Syria.”
Earlier this year, the U.K. joined several other Western nations that expelled top Syrian diplomats from its country. The British ambassador to Damascus also left earlier this year.
In Syria, conflict still rages between government and rebel forces in the country’s largest town of Aleppo. CNN reported that opposition fighters captured a government military base in the city on Monday. Rebels claim to have destroyed several tanks in the process.