Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab announced on Monday (August 6th) he was joining the opposition and heading to Qatar, becoming the highest-ranking defector since the uprising in Syria began, AFP reported.
After fleeing to Jordan, Hijab accused the Syrian government of "genocide" against its own people.
"I announce my defection today from the regime of killing and terror, and I join the ranks of the revolt," Hijab said in statement read by spokesperson Mohammed al-Otri.
Syrian opposition members in Jordan said Hijab and his family crossed the border during the night and were accompanied by two government ministers and three army officers.
"The Free Syrian Army helped all of them cross the border," said Syrian National Council member Khalid Zein al-Abedin. "They are now in a safe place inside the kingdom."
The premier's defection required months to organise, al-Otri said, adding that Hijab will head to Qatar in the next few days, the spokesperson added.
Syrian state television on Monday reported Hijab was dismissed and that Deputy Prime Minister Omar Ghalawanji was appointed as a caretaker prime minister.
The 46-year-old Hijab, who had previously served as agricultural minister, was only appointed to the premiership on June 6th following a widely boycotted May 7th parliamentary election.
Hijab's defection follows that of two other prominent Syrians.
On Sunday, Col. Yaraab Shara, head of the information division at the Political Security in Damascus, fled to Jordan, and Gen. Mohammed Ahmed Faris, a military aviator who became the first Syrian in space in 1987, fled to Turkey, according to Al-Arabiya.