Syrian President Bashar Assad
Syrian President Bashar Assad Israel news photo: Flash 90

Colonel Yarab al-Shara, a cousin of Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Shara and a senior official in the Syrian defense system, announced on Thursday that he has defected from President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The Al-Arabiya network broadcast a message in which al-Shara said he is leaving the regime. He said the Assad regime is a “murdering regime” and added that Assad uses a method of random bombings and the expulsion of innocent civilians.

“The regime ignores the most basic rules of human morality,” said al-Shara, who called on his colleagues to do likewise and defect from the Syrian regime.

Al-Shara’s defection is the latest in the string from the Syrian regime in the wake of its brutal crackdown on a popular uprising against it. Last week, Assad’s Prime Minister, Riyad Hijab, defected and crossed into Jordan.

Hijab said on Tuesday that Assad’s regime now controls only 30 percent of the country. He urged Syria’s rebels to “continue their fight against the regime as the Syrian people have high hopes and faith in you.”

Meanwhile on Thursday, a Western diplomat and a Gulf-based source said that Assad’s brother lost one leg in last month’s deadly attack on the country's security cabinet in Damascus, Al-Arabiya reported.

The attack on July 18 killed half of the government's six-member crisis council, including Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat.

Maher al-Assad has not been seen in public since the attack, Al-Arabiya noted. The report of his injury came as Assad issued a surprise decree Thursday appointing three new ministers, in a reshuffle following Hijab’s defection.

On Wednesday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) officially suspended Syria from membership. On Thursday, the United Nations called an end to its military observer mission in Syria.

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