Opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been buoyed by the many defections of members of the country’s armed forces, who have left to join the opposition — sometimes in the middle of the fighting.

On Thursday, the opposition scored a public relations coup when a man who identified himself as an assistant to Syria’s oil minister posted a video of himself publicly defecting. The man, who called himself Abdo Husameddinem, pointed to the government’s “brutal” response to protesters as his reason for leaving, urging other officials to do the same.


Watch the video of Husameddinem’s resignation:

As Washington Post correspondent Liz Sly reported, Husameddinem appears to be the highest-level official yet to leave Assad’s regime since the uprising and the ensuing government crackdown began a year ago:

“I join the revolution of this dignified people,” he declared in the video, which was filmed in an unidentified location.

“I have been in government for 33 years. I did not want to end my career serving the crimes of this regime. I have preferred to do what is right, although I know that this regime will burn my house and persecute my family,” he said.

The government had not confirmed whether the man in the video really was an assistant to the oil minister.

According to Sly, other notable officials who have defected include:

- Adnan Bakkour, attorney general of Hama

- Imad Ghalioun, a parliamentarian representing the city of Homs

- Brig. Gen. Mostafa Ahmad al-Sheik

View Photo Gallery: Death toll rises in Syria amid ongoing attacks on opposition rebels by government forces.