A top Syrian official has decided to abandon Bashar al-Assad's "criminal regime" and join the uprising. Deputy oil minister Abdo Hussameddin is the highest-ranking civilian to defect since the rebellion began a year ago, reports the BBC. "I am joining the revolution of the people who reject injustice and the brutal campaign of the regime," he said in a video posted on YouTube.
"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," the minister said, urging his colleagues to abandon "this sinking ship." Opposition activists say they helped arrange the defection, and that more will follow soon. United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos toured the hard-hit city of Homs yesterday and witnessed scenes of devastation in areas where the regime is accused of slaughtering civilians. (Read more Bashar al-Assad stories.)