Syrian PM Defects: Rebels

But government claims Riad Hijab was fired
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2012 6:19 AM CDT
Syrian PM Defects: Rebels
In this Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 photo, a Free Syrian Army soldier fires a weapon in Saladin neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria.   (AP Photo/Alberto Prieto)

The Syrian opposition is claiming a big defection to its side: Prime Minister Riad Hijab. Hijab, who became prime minister two months ago, would be the highest-level defection of the uprising so far, the AP reports. An opposition source tells CBS that Hijab and his family are already out of Syria; Reuters says he is in Jordan. Syria's government, of course, denies the defection report and claims Hijab was fired.

Hijab is the latest in a long line of defectors, and reports today indicate he was one of four senior regime officials to switch sides. CBS indicates the rest may be military members; the AP says all four are Cabinet ministers. Also today, a bomb hit Syria's state TV headquarters in Damascus, but no serious injuries were reported and broadcasting was not affected. The opposition has been mostly run out of Damascus and rebels are also struggling in Aleppo, where government forces appear to be preparing a ground assault today. (More defection stories.)

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