BEIRUT –– Syria's Prime Minister Riyad Hijab has defected from President Bashar Assad's administration and joined the opposition to his rule, a spokesman said on Monday in a statement broadcast on Al Jazeera television.

"I announce today my defection from the killing and terrorist regime and I announce that I have joined the ranks of the freedom and dignity revolution. I announce that I am from today a soldier in this blessed revolution," Hijab said in a statement read in his name by the spokesman.

The spokesman said Hijab was in a safe place.

Also Monday, Ahmad Kassim, a senior official with the Free Syrian Army, said that Hijab defected to Jordan along with three other ministers. The other ministers' identities were not immediately known.
The remarks came shortly after Syrian state-run TV said Hijab was fired from his post, less than two months after taking office. Hijab is a former agriculture minister and a loyalist in Assad's ruling Baath party.