Riad Hijab speaks out for the first time since he fled Syria to Jordan. He said that morals are down in the Assad regime and that there are cracks in the military.
Syria's prime minister who defected to the opposition said Tuesday that Bashar Assad's regime was near collapse and urged other political and military leaders to tip the scales and join the rebel side.
The comments by Riad Hijab were his first public statements since leaving his post and fleeing to Jordan with his family last week. Hijab is the highest-ranking political figure to defect from President Bashar Assad's regime.
"The regime is on the verge of collapse morally and economically in addition to cracks in the military," Hijab told a press conference in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
Hijab is a Sunni Muslim from the eastern province of Deir el-Zour where rebels claimed to have shot down an army MiG-23 warplane on Monday. Hijab, who was not part of Assad's inner circle, said the trip to Jordan lasted three days during which he was protected by rebels of the Free Syrian Army.
He said he felt "pain in his soul" over the regime's shelling and other attacks on rebel strongholds as the government stepped up its military offensive. Activists say more than 20,000 people been killed in the struggle since March 2011.
"I was powerless to stop the injustice," Hijab said, speaking in front of the rebel flag. He called on "honorable leaders" in Syria to defect as well.
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