Syria says it will not change position even in the event of 'World War III'
Tensions rise as Russia moves naval forces by Syria in the event of U.S. attack
With increased rhetoric and threats of reprisal, a defiant Syrian official says his nation will not change its position "even if there is World War III." Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad made that claim earlier this week -- even as activists claimed that another prominent member of the Assad regime had defected.
"The Syrian government will not change position even if there is World War III. No Syrian can sacrifice the independence of his country," Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad told reporters.
"The Syrian government will not change position even if there is World War III. No Syrian can sacrifice the independence of his country," he reportedly told reporters. "Syria has taken every measure to retaliate against...an aggression," he added.
In the meantime, there are reports that former Syrian Defense Minister General Ali Habib, a prominent member of President Bashar Assad's Alawite sect, has reportedly defected and is now in neighboring Turkey. Syrian state television denied the report and said Habib was still at his home in the country.
"Ali Habib has managed to escape from the grip of the regime and he is now in Turkey," Kamal al-Labwani, a senior member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition told Reuters from Paris. "I was told this by a Western diplomatic official," Labwani was quoted as saying.
If the defection turns out to be true and genuine, it would be the highest-ranking figure from the Alawite minority to break with Assad since the uprising against him began in 2011.
In the meantime, tension has been ratcheted in the region with word that Russia has reportedly prepared its naval forces to respond to a possible missile strike in Syria by the United States.
A Russian military source confirmed that their naval vessels in the Mediterranean were capable of influencing any kind of military situation arising due to escalation in the Syrian conflict.
The anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev has already entered its zone of operation as the flagship of the current rotation of the naval grouping in the Mediterranean.
In addition, the missile cruiser Moskva, from the Black Sea fleet, is also on its way to the eastern Mediterranean to assume the role of the Russian flagship.
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