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Free Syrian Army commander Colonel Riad al-Assaad told Al-Rai Kuwaiti newspaper in remarks published Wednesday that Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa, who had purportedly defected from the Syrian regime, is “in a very safe place in Syria,” but did not elaborate.

Assaad added, “many officials, who are very close to [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad and high-ranking officers [affiliated with the regime], are coordinating continuously with the Free Syrian Army to [assist them in defecting; especially] after they felt that the downfall of the Syrian regime is inevitable.”

Sharaa is considered the most powerful Sunni Muslim of Assad’s inner circle.

Reports circulated last week that Sharaa defected to Jordan, but Syrian state television quoted a statement from VP’s office last saying: “Mr. Sharaa has never thought about leaving the country or going anywhere.”

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