By Ria Novosti
Syria’s deputy oil minister announced his defection on Thursday, saying he is joining the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, al Jazeera television reported.
“I, Abdo Hussameldin, deputy oil and mineral wealth minister in Syria, announce my defection from the regime, resignation from my position and withdrawal from the Baath Party. I am joining the revolution of the people who reject injustice and the brutal campaign of the regime,” Hussameldin said in a video posted on YouTube.
Hussameldin is the highest ranking civilian official to abandon Assad since the unrest began a year ago.
He also accused Russia and China of backing Assad and said they were “partners in the killing of the Syrian people.” The two countries have vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, saying it was “unbalanced” and did not contain measures against armed opposition groups.
More than 7,500 people have been killed in violence in Syria over the past 12 months, the UN says.
Hussameldin’s announcement came after U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Washington was considering an “array of non-lethal assistance” to the Syrian opposition but that unilateral U.S. miltary action would be a “mistake.”
Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin accused Libya on Wednesday of running a training center for Syrian rebels who are “sent to Syria to attack the legal government.”
“This is completely unacceptable,” Churkin told the UN Security Council. “This activity is undermining stability in the Middle East.”