Ex-PM: Assad Only Controls 30% of Syria

'The regime is falling apart,' Riad Hijab says
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2012 8:46 AM CDT
Ex-PM: Assad Only Controls 30% of Syria
Riad Hijab, Syria’s defected former prime minister, speaks at a press conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012.   (AP photo/Mohammad Hannon)

Bashar al-Assad's days sound awfully numbered if you listen to ex-Prime Minister Riad Hijab. "The regime is falling apart morally, materially, economically," the defector told reporters in Jordan today. "Its military is rusting and it controls only 30% of Syria's territory." Hijab wasn't part of Assad's inner circle, and has only been prime minister since June, but analysts tell the New York Times that, as the highest-ranking defection yet, he may have been privy to internal assessments.

But Hijab doesn't expect to be the last high-level defection. He says there are lots of "leaders with dignity" in the government and military who are itching to defect. He says he ultimately left Damascus because the regime threatened his family. He's urging the opposition to unify and form a democratic government—though he doesn't want an office in it. "I have sacrificed myself in the campaign of righteousness," he said. (More Riad Hijab stories.)

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