UK & World News
Syrian Prime Minister 'Flees To Jordan'
Syria's prime minister Riyad Hijab has fled to Jordan, according to sources - as a blast hits Syrian state television.
President Bashar al Assad appointed the former agriculture minister as his PM in June, following elections in May.
Conflicting reports from Syrian state television claim Hijab was "dismissed" as he was about to announce his support for Syria's anti-Assad opposition.
In a statement read out on Al Jazeera, a spokesperson for Hijab said: "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. I announce that I am from today a soldier in this blessed revolution."
If confirmed, Mr Hajib's defection to the rebels would be highest-ranking defection of the 17-month uprising.
Sky's Alex Rossi, reporting from the Turkish border, said: "It's fair to say this is a significant defection, if it is confirmed. Our Jordanian diplomat sources say it is a defection and it is significant because of the role Mr Hihab was playing as prime minister of Syria."
Mr Hijab was a leading Sunni Muslim in Mr Assad's government. His home province of Deir Ezzor has been one of the key battlegrounds of the conflict which has seen mounting deaths from operations by the army in recent weeks.
Omar Ghalawanji, Hijab's deputy prime minister, has been named as a temporary replacement.
Turkish state news agency Anatolia is reporting that a Syrian brigadier general and five high-ranking officers have also fled to Turkey to support the rebels.
The Syrian National Transitional Council, an opposition group based in Turkey, is claiming that two Syrian government ministers and three army officers have also defected from the regime.
Meanwhile, five people are reported wounded after a bomb exploded at one of Syria's state television and radio buildings. The attack took place near the Umawiyyeen roundabout in Damascus.
The blast hit the third floor of the building though broadcasts haven't been affected and Syrian state television is still on air.
Damascus has witnessed a spate of suicide bombings in recent months as Syria's civil war intensifies. Another pro-government, private Syrian TV station, Al-Ikhbariya, showed pictures of the damage and staff tending to a wounded colleague.
Meanwhile, Syrian regime forces also shelled parts of the city of Aleppo and fighting in the district of Salaheddin - held by Free Syrian Army rebels - killed a rebel commander, according to the SOHR.
In Bab al-Nayrab, Syrian state forces reportedly shot dead a civilian who was attending casualties. A total of nine people were killed in violence in Aleppo on Monday, among them eight civilians.
Another 19 deaths were reported across the country, made up of 13 civilians and six rebels.
The attack came as William Hague warned of an escalation of the violence and pledged continuing support for the rebels.
Speaking on Sky News the Foreign Secretary said: "It is a bleak time in Syria ...we're likely, sadly, to see even more fighting, more bloodshed, and probably a bigger flow of refugees over the coming days.
"In the absence of a peaceful solution we will step up our support for the opposition, continue to deliver humanitarian aid and continue to intensify our work to isolate the Assad regime, its finances and its members, to make life as difficult as possible for it to operate."
As the fighting intensified, the US government gave the go-ahead for the Washington based Syrian Support Group to begin funding for the rebels.
Supporters of the Free Syrian Army praised the move which they claim will assist the rebels with arms to match those of the Assad forces.
Three US senators have also called for direct US military aid to Syrian rebels, including the use of US air power to protect rebel-controlled areas in the country.
John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham wrote in The Washington Post of the risks of deepening US involvement in the conflict in Syria.
It is impossible to independently verify death tolls out of Syria as media access is restricted.
what do you think?
..I WONDER JUST WHAT THE ANTI ASSAD FIGHTERS WANT, WHAT DO THEY REPRESENT ?????? JUST ASKING !
Just the same as they have now in five years time!!!!
No one knows Stuart and that's the problem!
Just so long as he does not want to come here ------
......LOOK OUT DAVID, RIYAD IS ON HIS WAY FOR YOUR JOB !!!!!! NICE HOUSE IN LONDON AND A FINE ENGLISH ESTATE (CHEQUERS) ... ALL FREE !!!!!!! PLUS A SALARY !!!!
He took his time to defect didn't he? While he was in power did he authorise any of the geonocide being committed in Syria?