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News Analysis: PM defection deals painful blow to Syrian leadership

(Xinhua)

09:34, August 07, 2012

DAMASCUS, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- The defection of Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab, despite the attempts by the government to downplay its significance, is considered as another sign of the increasing political pressure that the Syrian leadership faces from within.

The defection occurred as the embattled government has barely recovered from the last painful blow in July when four of its senior officers got killed in a bomb attack, experts say.

Jordanian government officials said Monday that the ex-Syrian prime minister defected along with his family to Jordan, although they later said the ex-official has not entered the Jordanian territory yet.

Hijab's defection came out shortly after the Syrian government announced that He was sacked from his post without any clarification of the reasons.

Soon after, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued two decrees. One relieving Hijab of his duties and the other assigning Omar Ghalawenji, deputy premier for services affairs and minister of the local administration, to replace Hijab in a caretaker government.

On June 6th, Assad issued a decree entitling Riyad Hijab, the former agriculture minister, to form a new government. He announced the formation of his cabinet on June 23.

Hijab, 46, is originally from the northeastern city of Deir Ezzour, which has been witnessing severe clashes between the Syrian forces and the rebels since the very beginning of unrest in the country. He is also a member of the Baath Party and served as the secretary general of the Arab Baath Party branch in Deir Ezzour.

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