Moscow, Sep 19 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's sister has fled the country along with her children to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Al Arabiya reported Wednesday citing an unnamed source.
Bushra al-Assad defected to Syria several weeks after her husband Assef Shawqat, formerly deputy chief of staff of the Syrian armed forces, was killed by Syrian opposition forces July 18, the report said.
Bushra, who already enrolled her children at a school in Dubai, fled Syria amid reported disputes within the Alawite sect, to which President Assad and the majority of the ruling Syrian elite belong, a source said.
"Some Alawite leaders are worried that the whole sect would eventually be implicated by President Assad in crimes against civilians," the source said, adding a "front of Alawite officers" had reportedly already formed against him to side with the Free Syrian Army in overthrowing the ruling regime.
Bushra feared she could be killed by other Alawite sect members implicated by her late husband Shawqat in killing civilians, the source added.
Since demonstrations began against Assad's regime in March 2011, the Syrian conflict has escalated into a full-scale civil war that has claimed up to 20,000 lives, according to estimates by various Syrian opposition groups.