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Top Syrian Diplomat In London Defects

Britain's Foreign Office says that Syria's most senior diplomat in London has defected in protest against the "violent and oppressive" acts of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Khaled al-Ayoubi, the charge d'affaires in London, told British officials that he was not willing to represent Assad's regime any longer.

Al-Ayoubi joined the Syrian diplomatic service in 2001.

His first posting was in Greece as consul from 2003 to 2008.

Defections are becoming a growing problem for Assad's regime, which has launched a bloody crackdown on a revolt in which, activists say, more than 20,000 people have died since March 2011.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP