Syria’s deputy oil minister has announced his resignation, saying he is joining the anti-government revolt.
Abdo Hussameddin announced his defection in a video posted on YouTube.
He is the highest ranking civilian to abandon President Bashar al-Assad since the uprising erupted a year ago.
Mr Hussameddin, 58, posted his video on YouTube late on Wednesday.
“I, Abdo Hussameddin, 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.”
Mr Hussameddin – who has been deputy minister since August 2009 – added: “I tell the regime, which claims to own the country, you have nothing but the footprint of the tank driven by your barbarism to kill innocent people.”