Purported Syrian Minister Quits Regime

This image made from amateur video and released by Aljizahnews Thursday, March 8, 2012, purports to show a deputy to Syria's oil ministry who identifies himself as Abdo Husameddine at an unidentified location.
This image made from amateur video and released by Aljizahnews Thursday, March 8, 2012, purports to show a deputy to Syria's oil ministry who identifies himself as Abdo Husameddine at an unidentified location.

A man claiming to be Syria's deputy oil minister has appeared in a YouTube video saying he resigned his post to join the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.  

He identified himself as Abdo Husameddine, and said that after 33 years of working for the government he does not want to end his career "serving the crimes" of Assad's "regime."

If confirmed, the defection would mark the most senior official to leave the Syrian government since the opposition uprising began in March of last year.

The attorney general of Hama province announced his resignation via video in August.  The government dismissed that video, saying he had been kidnapped and forced to make the statement under duress.

UN official visit

Meanwhile, the U.N. humanitarian chief is expected to meet with Syrian officials and humanitarian representatives in Damascus Thursday, a day after touring the former rebel stronghold of Baba Amr.

A spokeswoman for Valerie Amos said Wednesday she found parts of the district "completely devastated," and that few people were around - most having fled to nearby areas where aid workers are distributing food and medical supplies.

Amos and a Syrian Arab Red Crescent team spent 45 minutes in Baba Amr.  The spokeswoman said they tried to access opposition-held areas of the town, but could not negotiate access with the opposition.

Amos met earlier Wednesday with Syria's foreign minister, who told her she is free to go anywhere in Syria.

The visit was the first by an independent observer since the Syrian military began its month-long assault on the rebellious neighborhood that was seized from rebel control last week.

US criticism

In Washington Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Syria's blocking of humanitarian supplies for civilians represents a “new low” in President Assad's violent campaign against his political opponents. She said tons of food and medicine have been standing by while civilians die and the government launches new assaults.  She called the situation "unacceptable."

Also Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the top U.S. military leader outlined the challenges in Syria, including the country's air defenses and its stockpile of chemical weapons.  Panetta said the situation in Syria is "terrible" and there are "no easy answers."

"We all wish there was a clear and unambiguous way forward to directly influence the events in Syria. That, unfortunately, is not the case," noted Panetta. " That is not an excuse. That is reality. Only our clear path - our only clear path - is to keep moving in a resolute, determined, but deliberate manner with the international community to find a way to return Syria to the Syrian people."

Senator John McCain has called for U.S. air strikes to end Assad's bloody crackdown. He and other powerful senators also have raised the possibility of arming the Syrian rebels.

Russia weighs in

In New York, Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin accused Libya of training Syrian opposition fighters in Libyan camps and sending them back to Syria to attack pro-Assad forces.

"We have received information that in Libya, with the support of authorities, there is a special training center for the Syrian revolutionaries and their people are sent to Syria to attack the legal government. This is completely unacceptable according to all legal basis," Churkin said. "This activity is undermining stability in the Middle East. We think that al-Qaeda is in Syria and therefore there is the issue, should the export of revolution, is that not turning into the export of terrorism?"

Churkin did not offer additional information, but said the activity is undermining stability in the region.

Russia has been unhappy with how the international community has implemented Security Council resolutions, mandating the protection of Libyan civilians during the fight for liberation from Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year dictatorship.

In Council discussions on the nearly year-long government crackdown in Syria, Russia has repeatedly invoked Libya as a bad example and worked to prevent any kind of international interference in the Syrian conflict.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: Hayatte
March 09, 2012 9:33 AM
"The rebels opposed the killing of civilians". This is such a joke. In syria a civil war is going on and on both side you have killings. Dina concerning the arms for a year Saudi Arabia and Quatar are shipping them so don't be so naive. The trainning camps remind me what we did in Afghanistan in the 80s and what happenned to us afterwards. The conflict is not about good vs evil it's a war for power. Try to understand the in and out of the situation instead of being emotional.

by: William
March 09, 2012 4:33 AM
The so called rebels that are killing citizens is not true, The rebels are syrian army defectors who are opposed to killing defenseless people, These countries in the middle east are sick of dictatorships and want the right to pick their own leaders.

by: Dina
March 08, 2012 5:04 AM
So it's morally acceptable for Russia to arm the Syrian regime so they can slaughter their own people but the Libyans cannot train the fighters so they can defend themselves and Syrian citizens. The Russian Government is completely devoid of humanity or moral values and should not be allowed to have any voice on the security council.

by: sterling roofing
March 08, 2012 4:51 AM
You are right lets fix our country first and quit spending money on other countries. The money spent on other countries should go to us because it is our tax money and only should be spent here in our country. Besides, Syria is not our business. Leave it for Russia and China to figure out. And if they don't then it just goes to show what kind of government they are.

by: ahgo
March 08, 2012 3:11 AM
In my opinion all the world community including big states such Russia,China,USA ,Europe,Arab League do what their own interests require and actually they are complicit in crimes is being committed by Assad family.
Before i had some trust in USA-Obama,seems it was an illusion.We simple people could only pray to Almighty for the innocent people oppressed everywhere on planet.From today i stop to read VOA or any news.

by: Keith
March 08, 2012 3:08 AM
Keep your friends close and your enemy closer . Lets ask Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to invite Bashar AL- Assad to step down and give him asylum in Iran after all we all know the usa will take out our enemy sooner or latter . And if the duck doesn't stop quacking we can go the two for one deal ,while Israel takes out the nuclear threat we send in a drone like the one that took out the American in middle eastern garb and bam no more Assad no more Ahmadinejad. We win.

by: Tewodros Eshetu
March 08, 2012 2:57 AM
Congratulation for the Celebration for you anniversary. I wish you a best success for your future carrier to all VOA Staffs with the particular attention to VOA AMHARIC SERVICE

by: Abdelkamil
March 08, 2012 2:36 AM
we believe that the foreign interference in Syria does not serve to end the dictatorship in this country, becouse undoubtedly for the big countries who could offer help, it's only a matter of interests, so if it is, i think that arming the opposition and the free army is a way to protect civilians from Assad's kill machine.

by: Hapticz
March 08, 2012 1:17 AM
we just never learn do we! we're not the most equitable heap of government on the planet either, economic stratification, drug use is rampant and rising poverty in every corner of USA. solve our own problems first!

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