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Another Syrian official reportedly joins opposition against Assad

January 16, 2012 |  7:09 am

REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- A Syrian lawmaker has reportedly defected and joined the political opposition against President Bashar Assad, becoming the latest official to quit the Syrian regime in a string of recent defections.

Imad Ghalioun, a member of the Syrian parliament representing the protest hub of Homs in central Syria, went on the Dubai-based news channel Al Arabiya on Sunday night and announced he had joined the political opposition, saying sweeping human rights violations were taking place in his "disaster stricken" city.

“The Syrian people are living their worst period,” he reportedly told the news network from Cairo. “The people of Homs are under siege and the city is disaster stricken. There is no electricity, piles of garbage fill the streets. ... The sounds of shelling all night terrify children."

Ghalioun, also chairman of parliament's budget committee, said he was able to leave the country before a travel ban was imposed on officials. He added that many lawmakers want to speak out against the Assad regime but fear for their lives, according to Al Arabiya.

The legislator's defection was the most recent this month. A few days ago reports emerged about the defection of Ahmad Sheikh, a Syrian army brigadier previously in charge of security in northern Syria, making him the most senior commander to switch sides. Also this month, Mahmoud Sleiman Hajj Hamad, who headed inspection at the Defense Ministry, changed allegiance.

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-- Alexandra Sandels

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