“Members of the regime, little by little, are flaking off,” Robert Ford, America’s envoy to Damascus until the breakdown of diplomatic relations, told CNN. “They themselves know they are losing.”
Mr Ford described how Assad family members at the presidential palace could hear gunfire in the streets outside as they met with Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab league special envoy. “You can imagine what that does to their own spirits, their own morale.”
Mrs Makhlouf, who is in her late seventies, is the widow of Hafez al-Assad, the dictator who ruled Syria from 1971 until his death in 2000.
Although she has rarely appears in public, she is believed to have significant influence with the regime.
Bushra al-Assad, Mr Assad’s eldest sister, reportedly left the country with her five children.
Her husband, Assef Shawqat, was the government’s deputy defence minister until he was killed in a rebel bomb attack in July last year.
Mr Ford also said that Jihad Makdissi, a spokesman for the Syrian foreign ministry, had fled to the US but denied that he was collaborating with the American government.
Source: The Telegraph