World Bulletin / News Desk
Former Syrian prime minister Riyad Hijab said on Tuesday that President Bashar al-Assad's government is falling apart and controls only 30 percent of the country.
In his first public appearance since defecting to the opposition, Hijab told a news conference in Jordan that the government's spirits were low after struggling for 17 months to crush the revolt against Assad's rule.
"I tell you out of my experience and the position I occupied that the regime is collapsing, morally, materially and economically. Militarily it is crumbling as it no longer occupies more than 30 percent of Syrian territory," he said.
Hijab did not elaborate on that assertion, and took no questions from reporters.
It has been hard to independently determine the extent of territory in rebel hands as much of the fighting has occurred in outlying towns and rural areas and media access to Syria is restricted. But Assad has lost swathes of territory along Syria's northern and eastern border and fighting has weakened his hold on larger cities such as Aleppo and Homs.
Hijab added: "Oh devoted revolutionaries, your revolution has become a model of effort and sacrifice for the sake of freedom and dignity."
Hijab, who like much of the opposition comes from Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, was not part of Assad's inner circle. But as prime minister and the most senior civilian official to defect, his departure dealt a symbolic blow to the government, which is dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect.
His defection along with that of Syria's ambassador to Iraq, both tribal figures from Deir al-Zor, boosted opposition morale but the military reality on the ground has not changed, with aerial and ground bombardment keeping rebels in check.
Hijab urged officers in the military to defect and join the opposition. He also called on rebels to work harder to unify their fractious ranks.
"Oh men of the Free Syrian Army, unify your ranks as all hopes hang on you, you are the best fighters of this world," said Hijab, who took no questions from reporters.
Syrian authorities said they had dismissed Hijab before he fled, but he told the news conference in Amman that he resigned and defected to the opposition, referring to the Assad government as an "enemy of God".
"It is my duty to wash my hands of this corrupt regime," he said.
"There was an over-interpretation in the text and my memory failed me, because after a check it was revealed that there was no such meeting in Moscow between Tusk and Putin," said Sikorski
Police said that more than 100 Palestinians had been arrested since July – when a Palestinian teenager was murdered by suspected Jewish settlers – for pelting passing trains with rocks.
Army called out for rescue operation due to mountainous nature of area
Ramallah-based Fatah movement had invited representatives of rival faction Hamas – which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007 – to attend the event
Snowden's leaks indicated that GCHQ and the NSA had intercepted and monitored phone, email and social media communications on a massive scale, causing global uproar.
Thaliand's military junta has applied to join UN Human Rights Council, but laws on insulting monarchy threaten to undermine its application
Judges postponed trial proceedings in order to hear arguments from the plaintiffs' lawyers at the next hearing
Moscow has said the request is related to suspicion of fraud dating back to 2004 and 2005. Koblyakov has denied the charges and says he fears political persecution by Russian authorities
18,000 dwellings were destroyed or damaged in 50 days of Israeli attacks, and 108,000 people are homeless in a long impoverished, isolated territory.
ISIL seized large areas of Deir al-Zor's industrial region, meaning it now controls more than half the city
Haroon Aswat, 40, a British citizen of Indian descent, is wanted in the United States for allegedly conspiring to establish a militant training camp
Leung Chun-ying was talking just hours before the start of formal talks between student protest leaders and city officials aimed at defusing the crisis
22 people, including attackers, killed in a market place by 4 armed men in East Turkestan
Hamas denounced what he described as "blackmail" by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who recently said reconstruction of the war-battered strip would be halted if Hamas began repairing cross-border tunnels
Ibrahim Ghandour, vice president of the National Congress Party, told Reuters Bashir had been chosen by the party's decision-making council out of five candidates
Israeli forces fired dozens of teargas canisters at Palestinians demonstrating outside Israel's Ofer Prison in Ramallah