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Syria premier defects to anti-Assad opposition

Monday, August 06, 2012 - 01:42

Aug. 6 - As Aleppo shudders under a barrage of shellfire, the desertion of Syria's PM marks one of the most high-profile defections from President Bashar al-Assad's government.

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Blasts echo through the streets of Aleppo -- and thick smoke fills the air. This amateur video, which was posted to a social media website, purports to show Syria's second city under a barrage of mortars -- said to be carried out by pro-Assad forces. Reuters journalists at the scene said rebel fighters seemed battered and overwhelmed, and were running low on ammunition -- amid reports that government troops were gearing up for a ground assault. Reuters can't independently verify this amateur video. The sustained violence comes amid news that Syria's Prime Minister Riyad Hijab has defected to join the opposition. That's according to his spokesman, who spoke to Al Jazeera television. According to an unnamed Jordanian official, Hijab is "in Jordan with his family". Syrian authorities say he has been sacked. While his defection is one of the highest-profile desertions from Assad's political and military circles, some doubt his motives. One Syrian refugee in Turkey says his defection can't undo past wrongdoings. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN REFUGEE, ABDULMENAN HAJ MAJEED, SAYING: "The defection of a man who has been fighting for fifteen years against us will not help us at all. The ones who defected a year-and-a-half ago were on our side, but not those now." On Sunday, al Arabiya television reported that a senior Syrian intelligence officer had also defected to Jordan.

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Syria premier defects to anti-Assad opposition

Monday, August 06, 2012 - 01:42