Riyad Hijab is sworn in as new Syrian Prime Minister by President Bashar Assad in Damascus, in June 26, 2012.
Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab has defected from President Bashar al-Assad's government and joined the opposition to his rule, his spokesman said on Monday.
"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 on Al Jazeera television.
Syrian state TV said Hijab had been fired but an official source in Amman said he had defected to neighboring Jordan.
"It was arranged with the Free Syrian Army months ago that it would safely deliver him to a secure place where he would announce his defection," Atari said.
"The defection of Riyad Hijab is the key for all the honorable people in Syria: you must defect. A defection of this volume happened and was secured, so don't be scared, defect from this criminal regime," the statement said.
Hijab, a former agriculture minister, as prime minister only in June following a parliamentary election that authorities said was a step towards political reform but which opponents dismissed as a sham.
Shortly before reports of the Hijab's defection, Syrian television reported that he had been sacked from his post as prime minister. There was no immediate reason given for his dismissal.
Earlier on Monday, a bomb blast hit the Damascus headquarters of Syria's state broadcaster as troops backed by fighter jets kept up an offensive against the last rebel bastion in the capital.
The bomb exploded on the third floor of the state television and radio building, state TV said. However, while the rebels may have struck a symbolic blow in their 17-month-old uprising against Assad, Information Minister Omran Zoabi said none of the injuries was serious, and state TV continued broadcasting.
Rebels in districts of Aleppo visited by Reuters journalists seemed battered, overwhelmed and running low on ammunition after days of intense tank shelling and helicopter gunships strafing their positions with heavy machinegun fire.
But the lightly armed rebels have been outgunned by the Syrian army's superior weaponry. They were largely driven out of Damascus and are struggling to hold on to territorial gains made in Aleppo, a city of 2.5 million.