In a sign that cracks within the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (pictured) have further deepened, Prime Minister Riad Hijab has defected to Jordan, according to anti-Assad rebels and an official in Jordan's government. Earlier Monday, Syrian state-run TV said that Hijab had been dismissed. A rebel army official, Ahmad Kassim, said that three other cabinet ministers have also defected to Jordan. Mohammad Otari, a man who identified himself as a spokesman for Hijab, told Al-Jazeera TV that Hijab had been planning his escape for months, took 10 related families, and is now a "soldier" against Assad's "criminal regime." Until today, Hijab was seen as a loyalist in Assad's Baath party.
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