Syria denies Assad's deputy tried to defect

A Free Syrian Army fighter runs for cover as a Syrian Army tank shell hits a building across a street during clashes in central AleppoBEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria dismissed reports that President Bashar al-Assad's deputy had defected and its forces pursued an offensive against rebels, bombarding parts of Aleppo in the north and attacking an insurgent-held town in the oil-producing east. Vice-President Farouq al-Shara "never thought for a moment about leaving the country", said a statement from his office broadcast on state television on Saturday in response to reports that the veteran Baath Party loyalist had tried to defect to Jordan. …

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