Syria denies latest defection claims; new UN mediator announced

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Syria denies latest defection claims; new UN mediator announced

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Syrian state TV has denied that Deputy President Farouq al Shara has defected to Jordan.

An on-air statement from his office said the 73-year-old “never thought for a moment about leaving the country” as a 17-month old rebellion continues.

The rejection came as UK-based activists claimed more than 130 people died across the country on Saturday.

Meanwhile the new international mediator on Syria says he urgently needs to clarify what support the UN will offer him.

Lakhdar Brahimi will replace Kofi Annan who stepped down from his role as peace envoy earlier this month.

The experienced Algerian diplomat and Nobel peace laureate Lakhdar Brahimi is due to arrive in New York next week where he’ll meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to discuss a fresh approach to Syria.

United Nation’s observers, whose mission ends in the next few hours, say they’ll keep a ‘liaison office’ open in Damascus after their departure.

In his final news conference, the UN monitoring chief Babacar Gaye admitted that the team had been frustrated at the failure to end the violence in Syria.