Fighting continues to rage in the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Homs, and in his first public appearance since defecting to the opposition this month a former prime minister alleged President Assad’s regime is crumbling around him.
Riyad Hijab appeared in Jordan to announce that after two months in the prime minister’s job he realised the game was up.
“I assure you, through my experience and the position I used to fill that the regime is collapsing psychologically, financially, and economically, with cracks in its military power. It is only in control of 30 percent of Syrian land,” he claimed.
Hijab gave no details on what he based his estimate of Assad’s territorial control, but while the army is busy putting down resistance in Aleppo and Homs it is losing control elsewhere.
There is currently a big battle underway for Deir al-Zor, capital of the main oil-producing region.
The United States is now sounding out the possibility of establishing a Libyan-style no-fly zone to protect opposition forces, but the plan seems unlikely to adopted swiftly. In the meantime the White House has repeated its call on Syrian army members to defect.
One human rights group said 23,000 Syrians have now died in the 17-month revolt.