Syrian Prime Minister Defects

In a further sign of disarry at the top of the Syrian Government, the Prime Minister has defected and fled the country:

Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab has defected from President Bashar al-Assad’s government to join “the revolution”, his spokesman says.

Mr Hijab was appointed less than two months ago and his departure is the highest-profile defection since the uprising began in March 2011.

His family is reported to have fled Syria with him.

Riad Hijab is a Sunni Muslim from the Deir al-Zour area of eastern Syria which has been caught up in the revolt.

His spokesman Mohammed el-Etri told al-Jazeera TV that he was in a safe location.

“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,” ran the statement read by his spokesman.


Unconfirmed reports suggested that two other cabinet ministers had also deserted and there were claims that a third, Finance Minister Mohammad Jalilati, had been arrested while trying to flee.

But Syrian state TV said he was still in his office working as usual, and it broadcast what it said was a phone interview with Mr Jalilati categorically denying reports that he had been detained.

Initially, Syrian State TV had also reported that Hijab had been dismissed from his office, an obvious attempt to cover-up his defection, so it’s unclear what the status of the other ministers might be. It would seem that the Assad regime’s days are nearing an end. The only question is who and what he’ll take down with him.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.