Bashar Assad's Mother and Sister Flee Syria, U.S. Envoy Reports

Britain's Telegraph reports that the Syrian dictator's mother has fled to the United Arab Emirates; American diplomat claims members of the regime's inner circle are defecting.

Britain's Telegraph is reporting that Syrian President Bashar Assad's immediate family and inner circle, including his mother, Anisa Makhlouf, have fled the country.

According to the Telegraph, Robert Ford, who served as U.S. ambassador to Syria until the breakdown of diplomatic relations, reports that "members of the regime, little by little, are flaking off." Assad's mother has reportedly fled to the United Arab Emirates. His sister Bushra, the report said, have fled to Dubai.

Mrs. Makhlouf, in her late seventies, is the widow of Hafez Assad, Bashar Assad's father who ruled Syria from 1971 until his death in 2000. The Telegraph reports that while Mrs. Makhlouf has rarely been seen in public, she is "believed to have significant influence with the regime."

Assad's eldest sister Bushra left the country with her five children. Her husband Assef Shawqat was a deputy defnes minister in Assad's government, but was killed in a bomb attack by rebels last July, the Telegraph reported.