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.
Israeli military planes have hit at a number of sites in Gaza following a rocket attack
Over past ten days, 71 people have been killed in attacks carried out by Assad regime in Syria’s NW Latakia province
Civilians flee ISIL-held city of Raqqa amid fears of imminent attack by PYD terrorist group supported by US air power
Human Rights Watch says Egypt courts have sentenced more than 150 people to prison since May for staging peaceful protests
Russia delays airstrikes in Syria to allow various armed groups to separate from al-Nusra Front
A shock new theory has emerged on the EgyptAir Flight MS804 air disaster claiming it could have been caused by a meteor
B'Tselem group says army investigations are slow, inefficient and rarely lead to convictions
'The discussions have become more sensitive and delicate bringing us closer to a comprehensive agreement,' UN envoy says
Leading human rights group Amnesty International has criticized a dozen European countries for complicity in Egypt’s crackdown on dissent through their arms exports to the African country.
Chief forensic official dismisses reports suggesting that last week’s EgyptAir plane crash might have been caused by explosion
Far-right Israeli opposition lawmaker Avigdor Lieberman has agreed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on terms for joining the coalition government as its new defense ministe
Foreign Minister Lavrov says 'convinced it would have been possible to more effectively and quickly liberate ISIL-occupied areas if Russian and US militaries started coordinating their actions
Syrian Democratic Forces units start an operation to liberate northern Raqqa province
'The T4 air base was severely damaged by an ISIL artillery attack. In particular, four Russian Mi-24 attack helicopters appear to have been destroyed,' a report says
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira is tasked with overseeing the use of public funds, and investigating allegations of double billing of flights by Netanyahu
The two countries set to conduct another round of talks on organising this year's pilgrimage for Iranians