Abdullah al-Omar, a former propaganda aide to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, said on an Al Jazeera English broadcast Sunday that Assad knows the end of his rule is drawing closer, and has already prepared plans to escape into Russia.
“I know the escorts of Bashar al-Assad, we used to sit and talk,” he said. “[They] told me that Russia is planning more than 300 apartments for the extended al-Assad family. I know that after 60 days, the families will start running away gradually. The last will be Bashar’s, after having international guarantees that he will not be prosecuted and will be safe in Russia.”
Al-Omar added that during his time working for Assad, he and fellow regime propagandists “had to be careful” about showing their unease over the rampant and wanton violence carried out against the Syrian people. “He kills even people who are close to him,” al-Omar said.
His revelation that Assad has an escape plan could embolden international leaders who’ve been hesitant to intervene in Syria’s burgeoning civil war, which has in the last 10 days threatened to become a regional war with Turkey as well.
The neighboring nations have exchanged mortar fire for the last five days straight, stoking fears that Turkey’s forces along the border may take the initiative to capture or destroy Syrian artillery. Turkey’s parliament has approved a bill which would enable such operations.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in August that the American military would intervene in Syria if intelligence officials believe the Assad regime is preparing to use chemical weapons against its people. “We cannot have a situation in which chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people,” Obama said.