Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been investigating the possibility of claiming political asylum in Latin America for him, his family and his associates if he is forced to flee from Damascus. The news was credited to an unnamed source in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

Faisal al-Miqdad, the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister, held meetings in Cuba, President Bashar al-Assad and Ecuador over the past week, delivering classified personal letters from al-Assad to local leaders. Assad previously rejected Western and Arab countries’ asylum offers.

The foreign ministry of Venezuela confirmed to the El Universal newspaper that al-Miqdad delivered a letter for President Hugo Chavez, who has not hidden his support for the Assad regime since the crisis began in Syria in March last year. Indeed, Venezuela has supplied petrol and diesel to power Syrian tanks and armoured personell carriers, allowing them to continue their part in the fight against the Syrian rebel forces. Chavez also has close ties to Iran’s regime, making him a key player in any plan to save Assad.

When asked today (Wednesday) on the sidelines of UN climate talks in Qatar if he supported an asylum deal for Assad as a possible end to the crisis in Syria, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declined to answer directly. He told the Associated Press that the United Nations does not allow anyone “impunity”. He said, “whoever commits [a] gross violation of human rights must be held accountable and should be brought to justice. This is a fundamental principle.” In a November interview with Russia Today, Assad vowed that he would not flee his country, saying he would “live and die in Syria.”

The increased rumours of Assad’s preparations for an exit from Syria come as fighting around the capital city of Damascus closed in on Assad’s seat of power. In recent weeks, fighting between the regime and rebels has intensified in the suburbs surrounding the city. This increased pressure on Assad has sparked fears that he may resort to using chemical weapons against his own people, or against Turkey or Israel. There are also fears that the regime may lose control of its chemical weapons,