Less than an hour after Syria announced that he was fired, other news outlets have confirmed that Prime Minister Riyad Hijab has defected to Jordan. Hijab has only been in office since June, after President Bashar al-Assad appointed him to the post in an attempt to demonstrate reform within his government. However, Hijab said in a statement today that he had been planning to defect for months and only took the job because he was threatened. Syrian rebels say that three other cabinet members have also left the country and are joining the opposition alongside him.
In other Syrian news, the rebels have also dragged Iran deeper into their conflict after they kidnapped a bus with 48 Iranian citizens on board. Iranian TV claims the hostages are merely religious pilgrims on a tour of Shiite holy sites, but the rebels claimed that they were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and plan to use the hostages to pressure Iran to end its support of Assad.
Finally, the Syrian state TV station in Damascus was hit by a bomb blast this morning, though the station was not knocked off the air and injuries appeared to be minor. The bomb was reportedly set off inside the building, suggesting that either rebels have infiltrated the organization, or — as has been alleged in the past — the attack was staged by government forces to undermine support for the opposition. There's no doubt now that terrorist groups have become part of the fight, though it's not clear if anyone in the Syrian opposition can (or wants to) control them.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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