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Interactive Map Tracks Defections of High Ranking Syrians

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, September 20 2012

Screenshot of Aljazeera's interactive map of Syrian defections.

As the Syrian civil war spreads and seems increasingly likely to continue indefinitely, the number of Syrian refugees and defectors has increased. One of the best known is Brigadier General Manaf Tlass; the silver haired, chisel jawed former confidante of President Bashar el-Assad defected in July; he resurfaced in Paris, denounced the regime during several press conferences and television interviews, and now seems to be positioning himself as a leading member of the Syrian opposition abroad. But there have been many other high ranking defections over the past few months — senior military officials, members of the Assad family, members of parliament, cabinet members and diplomats.

Aljazeera English has produced an interactive map that tracks the defections, dividing them into color coded categories that indicate member of state, deceased, defected, recently defected.

Click on one of the colored dots and a box pops up, with the name, date and title of the defector, the circumstances surrounding his defection and any multimedia material available — usually a YouTube video of a televised interview with the defector.

The methodology collecting the data is explained below the map, alongside this context:

When the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime began in March 2011, many analysts believed the regime would remain intact, given the strict loyalty test officials and diplomats have to endure before receiving important positions in the army or government.

As the uprising progressed, military generals and soldiers began to defect from the Syrian army to form the rebel Free Syrian Army. A large number of soldiers fled to neighbouring Turkey while others remained in Syria to battle government forces.

These defecting officials represent a small minority of government representatives – most have remained loyal to the state.

The map is updated regularly and is a valuable, informative resource for Syria watchers.