The deputy oil minister said he was ‘joining the revolution of the people’
3:22am UK, Thursday March 08, 2012
Syria’s deputy oil minister has quit his post, saying he is joining the revolt against President Bashar al Assad’s regime, according to reports.
Abdo Hussameddin made the announcement in a video posted by activists on YouTube.
He is the highest ranking civilian to desert Assad since the uprising began a year ago
“I, the engineer Abdo Hussameddin, the deputy oil minister… announce my defection from the regime and my resignation,” he said in the video.
Thousands are said to have been killed in the government crackdown
“I am joining the revolution of the people who reject injustice and the brutal campaign of the regime, which is seeking to crush the people’s demand for freedom and dignity.”
Hussameddin denounced Russia and China for backing the regime, saying they were not “friends of the Syrian people but partners in the killing of the Syrian people”.
He said he had served in the Syrian government for 33 years and did not wish to end his life “serving a criminal regime”.
“That is why I have joined the right path knowing that this regime will burn down my house, hunt down my family and fabricate lies,” he said.
He urged his colleagues to abandon “this sinking ship”.
Baroness Amos with Syrian foreign minister Walid al Moualem
According to the United Nations, more than 7,500 people – many of them women and children – have died in the brutal government crackdown on the rebels.
The news of Mr Hussameddin’s resignation came just hours after US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Washington may supply the activists with ‘non-lethal’ aid.
Earlier UN humanitarian chief Baroness Valerie Amos and a Syrian Red Crescent team of aid workers were allowed into the devastated Baba Amr district of Homs.
Baroness Amos went to the district as part of a three-day mission to try to persuade Syrian authorities to grant full access to aid workers into the towns and cities affected by fighting so they can deliver life-saving assistance to civilians.
The International Red Cross said most Baba Amr residents had left for areas such as Abel that have already been visited by the organisation.
Their teams provided assistance to 450 families, about 2,700 people, in Abel during the day.
Baroness Amos has also held talks with foreign minister Walid Moualem in the capital Damascus.
He said she could go anywhere in Syria, according to her spokeswoman, who added Ms Amos and her team had heard gunfire while they were in Baba Amr.