DAMASCUS - Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara has not defected, state television said on Saturday, citing a statement from his office after media reports that he had fled.
"Mr Shara has never thought about leaving the country or going anywhere," said the television. Shara himself was not seen.
Shara, 73, is the most powerful Sunni Muslim figure in the minority Alawite-led regime of President Bashar al-Assad and has served in top posts for almost 30 years.
The rebel Free Syrian Army said in a statement that Shara, who has been vice president since 2006, had tried to defect to the opposition.
"Initial reports show that there was an attempted defection, but that it failed," the FSA's military council said.
A Jordanian official said Shara was not on Jordanian soil, after Arab media reports that he had fled to the neighbouring Arab country.
Syrian state television said Shara also hailed the appointment on Friday of new UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, the veteran Algerian diplomat who is taking over from Kofi Annan.
Assad's regime has been hit by a series of defections since an anti-regime revolt broke out in March last year, including former prime minister Riad Hijab and high profile general Manaf Tlass -- a childhood friend of Assad.
Hijab, who defected two weeks ago, told a press conference in Jordan on Tuesday that the regime now controlled only 30 percent of Syrian territory, adding: "It has collapsed militarily, economically and morally."
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, on a visit to Beirut, had said on Thursday that he had information that Assad's regime would be rocked by more "spectacular" defections soon.
Shara has been vice president since 2006 and previously served as foreign minister for more than 20 years both under Assad and his father and predecessor Hafez al-Assad.
Shara, who was born in Daraa, the cradle of the uprising, was last seen on television for the state funeral of four top security chiefs killed in a Damascus bomb attack claimed by the FSA.