Ex-Syrian PM defects, joins 'revolution': report
BEIRUT - Reuters
Riyad Hijab and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) are in Damascus in this handout photo distributed by Syrian News Agency (SANA) June 26, 2012. REUTERS photoSyria's Prime Minister Riyad Hijab has defected from President Bashar al-Assad's administration and joined the opposition to his rule, a spokesman said today in a statement broadcast on Al Jazeera television.
"I 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 statement read in his name by the spokesman.
The spokesman said Hijab was in a safe place.
Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab has defected to Jordan, a Jordanian official source said today, prompting Syria to announce he had been sacked and replaced by a caretaker premier.
"Hijab is in Jordan with his family," said the source, who did not want to be further identified.
Hijab's defection was one of the most high profile desertions from President Bashar al-Assad's political and military circles. On Sunday, al Arabiya television reported a senior Syrian intelligence officer had also defected to Jordan.
Hijab, a Sunni Muslim from Syria's Sunni province of Deir al-Zor, was also a ruling Baath Party apparatchik.
State television said Omar Ghalawanji, who was a deputy prime minister as well as minister for local administration, would lead a temporary caretaker government.
Assad had appointed Hijab, a former agriculture minister, as prime minister in June following a parliamentary election which came after more than a year of violent protests against Assad's rule.