Ex-Syrian prime minister predicts the downfall of the Assad regime
The former Prime Minister of Syria, Riad Hijab, has released his first statement since he fled the country. On Tuesday, Hijab claimed that the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad is near collapse.
Hijab is the highest-ranking officer to defect from Assad’s regime. He fled to Jordan last week, under the protection of the Free Syrian Army.
The Associated Press quoted Hijab as saying, “The regime is on the verge of collapse morally and economically in addition to cracks in the military.” Hijab called on other Syrian leaders to defect, and urged the army to “follow the example of Egypt’s and Tunisia’s armies – take the side of the people.”
Reuters reports that the Syrian army is better equipped and has more manpower than the rebel forces, but ex-premier Hijab also commented that at most, Assad controls 30 percent of the country.
The L.A. Times reported UN estimates that 2 million people have been affected by the conflict, and at least 1 million have been internally displaced. Refugees numbering 200,000 have already left the country and sought safety in the border states of Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.
Fighting has increased in recent weeks, especially in the country’s largest city of Aleppo, where the militia is on the offensive and trying to gain full control of all rebel strongholds.
More than 20,000 people have been killed on both sides of the conflict since it began in March 2011.