Defected Syrian PM urges more breaks from Assad

JAMAL HALABY
August 14, 2012
Syrian men inspect a hole allegedly made during an airstrike by government forces in the town of Marea, some 35 km ( 21 miles )  north of Aleppo , Syria, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)
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Syrian men inspect a hole allegedly made during an airstrike by government forces in the town of Marea, some 35 km ( 21 miles ) north of Aleppo , Syria, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Syria's defected prime minister says he is joining the rebel side and is urging other political and military leaders to break from Bashar Assad's regime.

Riad Hijab's comments on Tuesday were his first public remarks since leaving his post and fleeing to Jordan with his family last week. Hijab is the highest-ranking political figure to defect from Assad's regime.

Hijab says that he decided he could no longer support Assad because the Syrian president has no ability to halt the fighting. Activist say more than 20,000 have been killed in battles between rebels and government forces since March 2011.