REPORT: Assad Has Left Syria For A Warship In The Mediterranean

Russian Warship SmetlivyiRussian warship sent to Mediterranean in July (click to expand)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

After nearly two years of conflict and 117,000 displaced Syrians the UPI reports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his family may have left the country to live aboard a warship manned by Russian security.UPI cites an unconfirmed Al-Watan report that claims Assad’s family is somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea and that the now semi-deposed president travels back to the country by helicopter for meetings and receptions.

Al-Watan is not the most reliable source. The fact their report is unavailable, and also unconfirmed by UPI,  leaves a heavy doubt lingering over the Assad offshore family charter. But, we’ve seen Syrian news downplayed before when nobody on the ground was able to “confirm” reports to the satisfaction of many Western news outlets. Every policy think tank expert in the world has an opinion on how the Syrian crisis will end, before it does, this is one possibility that slipped out through UPI:

When [Assad] flies to his embattled country, the president lands at undisclosed locations and is transported to the presidential palace under heavy guard, the sources said. The Russian-guarded warship provides a safe environment for Assad, who has lost confidence in his own security detail, the report said.

Assad’s presence on the warship suggests he has been granted political asylum by Russia but there has been no official comment from Moscow, the newspaper said. Assad’s presence on the ship could be a sign of looming negotiations on the conflict in Syria, the report said.

While negotiations continue stumbling toward a beginning, Assad can take little comfort in the rebels growing proficiency with surface-to-air missiles. Regardless of where he is, Man Portable Air defence Systems (MANPADS) have been appearing with great frequency among rebel forces and it only takes one shot to take down a helicopter flying in off the coast. 

Even if Assad is taking comfort in the balmy Mediterranean breezes offshore, that long helicopter ride back into the country would be pretty tense.

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