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Assad Controls Only 30% of Syria, Former Prime Minister Claims

Assad Controls Only 30% of Syria, Former Prime Minister Claims

Former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Farid Hijab said that President Bashar al-Assad only controls about 30 percent of the country now and that the “regime is falling apart morally, materially, economically.” Hijab, who defected last week after his family was threatened, also said at a news conference in Jordan that high-level civilian and military officials in Syria wish to defect.

A technocrat and Sunni Muslim from the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, Hijab had been appointed to the post of prime minister only in June and was not a member of Assad’s inner circle. The New York Times points out that his comments align with those of other defectors and that he “may have had access to reliable internal assessments or government sources.” The US government has lifted sanctions that had been imposed against Hijab.

The rebels in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) continued to clash with regime forces in the capital of Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s commercial center. On Monday, the rebels claimed they had, for the first time, shot down a Syrian fighter jet. One video shows a jet in fames and another a man identifying himself as the pilot, Farid Mohammed Suleiman. An armed fighter asks him to give a message to the Syrian army and the man says “I tell them to defect from this gang.” The Syrian regime has claimed that the jet crashed due to a technical failure.

Heavy clashes are also being reported in the central city of Homs, a center of anti-government dissent, that endured weeks of siege and shelling by government forces last year. Syria’s deputy health minister Ma’moun al-Zoubi has reportedly been assassinated in the southern city of Dera’a, where protests first began against Assad’s regime.

After seventeen months of unrest, Syria’s isolation is increasing, with the BBC saying that Assad’s regime could soon find the country suspended from the 57-member Organization of Islamic Co-operation (OIC), which is meeting in Saudi Arabia.

The New York Times observes that the civil war in Syria has increasingly become a “proxy war, with Iran and Russia assisting the government as Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia funnel aid to the rebels.”

Assad has reportedly sent a special envoy, Buthaina Shaaban, to Beijing and China says that it is considering inviting the opposition for talks. The BBC says that Russia is denying reports that Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told a Saudi Arabian newspaper in an interview that Assad has said he will step down. The Saudi Arabian newspaper al-Watan also quoted Bogdanov as saying that, at a bombing last month at the National Security Bureau in Damascus, Assad’s brother Maher lost both his legs. Russia labeled all these quotes as a “provocation.”

Over 21,000 have died in the unrest in Syria that began with anti-government protests in March of 2011. United Nations emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos is now in Syria for a three-day regional trip to discuss humanitarian aid for civilians trapped or displaced by the fighting.

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1:22PM PDT on Aug 27, 2012

make peace not war !!!

11:19AM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

It's a shame the international community has let this go on so long. It could have been stopped by telling President Bashar al-Assad that he will face trial for crimes against humanity unless he stops his troops.

10:29AM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

Vengeance is a dish best served cold. Beware of what you pray for, it could be Pandoras Box.

10:27AM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

People, Beware, sometimes you get more than you wish for.

There are elements within the opposition that include the very people that your President and that former idiot, GeoBush constantly referred to as the "Evil Doers." Oh, Don't misunderstand GeoBush is still an idiot.

These suspicious groups are nearing a perilous place in history, you see, Syria possess's many chemical weapons, possibly other types as well.

Imagine the future landscape if these weapons were to be used, if they are...lets us hope that they confine their use on Tel Aviv.

10:34AM PDT on Aug 16, 2012

The time for despots is over. The people have the power to govern themselves.

2:53AM PDT on Aug 16, 2012

Interesting article!

1:41AM PDT on Aug 16, 2012

well NATO went in, armed the terrorists, bring in Al Qaeda and now it would seem the same thing is destined to happen as is still going on in Libya - it's started. Civil war is the most likely scenario, which was the whole point of this revolution, to crumble the country and make it's resources ready for the taking. My government sickens me for many of their actions, and their actions in the Middle-East and their lies are right up there near the top of the list. This is very likely to go on for years. Again. Love NATO.

1:30AM PDT on Aug 16, 2012

the world could stop this slaughter by telling President Bashar al-Assad that he will be tried in the world court for crimes against humanity unless he stands down and quits fighting.
there will be no retirement. There will be a long stretch in prison. when confronting a bully you must be able to make him fear you enough to back down.

10:51PM PDT on Aug 15, 2012

Anyone in power who systematically attempts to kill and destroy his own people does not deserve power. They are a tyrant and should be overthrown as expeditiously as possible. There is also no doubt that there are forces outside the country that wish to destabilize the region for their own vested self interests and those actions will complicate an already tragic situation. Sadly for the Syrian people it appears as if things will get worse before the begin to get better.

5:47PM PDT on Aug 15, 2012

I have a lot of mixed feelings here. My daughters collage friend who returned back home to live and work in Syria emails us about what is going on there for them in Damascus...

Many months ago they reported that all these other groups were involved, not just Syrian's ( such as Islamist extremists, Al Qaeda, and others) and that western influence was supporting this insurrection because of the desire to hold more control in the region. They also spoke of large untapped oil reserves that lie within Syria's borders.......

I worry about my daughters friend....and about us here not really understanding all that is going on... It would be a better world if we could trust that we knew the truth of these things.
There are a lot of agenda's going on here. And it's the people who suffer...... People just like you and me..............
I can do nothing but pray a lot a lot a lot for peace...

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