BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria's deputy oil minister Abdo Hussameddin announced his resignation overnight Wednesday, in a video posted by activists on YouTube, saying he was joining the revolt.
Hussameddin is the highest ranking Syrian official to resign from the regime of Syrian President Bashar el-Assad who has been battling a one-year revolt.
"I, the engineer Abdo Hussameddin, the deputy oil minister ... announce my defection from the regime and my resignation," he said in the video.
"I am joining the revolution of the people who reject injustice and the brutal campaign of the regime, which is seeking to crush the people's demand for freedom and dignity," he added.
Rami, the activist who shot the video of Hussameddin and posted it on YouTube, told AFP in Beirut that the opposition helped arrange his resignation. He asked that the location where the video was shot not be disclosed for safety reasons.
Hussameddin denounced Russia and China for backing the regime saying they were not "friends of the Syrian people but partners in the killing of the Syrian people".
He said he had served in the Syrian government for 33 years and did not wish to end his life "serving a criminal regime".
"That is why I have joined the right path knowing that this regime will burn down my house, hunt down my family and fabricate lies," he said.
He advised his colleagues to abandon "this sinking ship".
According to the United Nations, more than 7,500 people have died in the brutal government crackdown to put down the revolt that eruped last March.
The news of the ministerial resignation came hours after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Washington was looking at delivering non-lethal aid to Syria's rebels, hinting at the first direct US assistance to forces seeking Assad's downfall.
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