Syria's prime minister became the highest-profile official to leave the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad on Monday.
officials and opposition leaders said Riyad Hijab had defected, while
Syrian state television said al-Assad dismissed Hijab from his post
Sabra, a spokesman for the opposition Syrian National Council, said
Hijab fled Syria overnight and arrived with his family in Jordan.
officials confirmed that Hijab, who was appointed prime minister in
June, had defected to Jordan and was with his family.
announce today my defection from the killing and terrorist regime and I
announce that I have joined the ranks of the freedom and dignity
revolution. I announce that I am from today a soldier in this blessed
revolution," Hijab said in a written statement read by spokesman
Muhammad el-Etri on Al Jazeera on Monday.
Hijab will hold a news conference later Monday, Sabra said.
July, one of Syria's most senior diplomats -- Nawaf al-Fares --
defected, publicly embraced his country's uprising and called for a
foreign military intervention. Al-Fares was Syria's ambassador to Iraq.
Tlas, a Sunni general in Syria's elite Republican Guards, also defected
last month. Tlas is the son of a former defense minister and a cousin
of a first lieutenant in al-Assad's army.
just like al-Fares and Tlas, is a Sunni who served in a power structure
dominated by the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiism.
became prime minister in late June after the parliamentary elections
and was tasked with creating a new Cabinet for al-Assad's regime.
Opposition leaders haled the news of Hijab's defection.
consider the defection to be what is morally right and what is called
for at this historic time," said Abdulbaset Sieda, head of the Syrian
National Council. "This is a killer and criminal regime, and at this
historic moment, there should be no further hesitation. It is imperative
to stand by the people of Syria now."
news came amid reports of a bombing Monday inside the Syrian state-run
TV building in Damascus, the latest in a series of attacks to rock the
nation's capital city as Syrian rebels and government forces battle for
control of the country.
were reports of injuries in the explosion, which comes as al-Assad's
forces fight to keep control of its main cities -- Damascus and Aleppo
-- in the more than yearlong uprising.
was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which occurred
on the third floor of the Public Center for Broadcast in Television.
employees of the Public Center for Broadcast in Television are well,
and we know who stood behind this cowardly, brutal attack. There are
some injuries, but Syrian media will continue to broadcast," the
Ministry of Information said on state-run TV.
explosion came amid reports of renewed fighting early Monday in Aleppo,
Syria's most populous city, according to the opposition.
least 44 people have been killed in fighting across the country Monday,
the Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. The deaths included 10
people killed in fighting and the discovery of 20 bodies in Aleppo, the
reports of deaths follow news that warplanes pounded rebel strongholds
north of Damascus, and heavy shelling was reported in several
neighborhoods in northern and central Aleppo.
can not independently confirm reports of violence, as the government
has severely restricted access to Syria by international journalists.
Al-Hajji, a spokesman for a Free Syrian Army brigade in Aleppo, said
clashes raged for hours at various spots near the city center, some
close to the presidential palace.
says he is in the Industrial City of Aleppo, about 15 kilometers (nine
miles) from the city of Aleppo, which is the commercial capital.
As rebels scrambled to fend off regime forces in Aleppo, fighting was reported in other parts of Syria.
least 124 people were killed across the country Sunday, the opposition
Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. The deaths included 59 in
Damascus and its suburbs and 25 in Aleppo, the group said.
Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the situation may get worse
in Aleppo, describing the city as "the epicenter of a vicious battle
between the Syrian government and those who wish to replace it."