NEWS

Syrian politician defects to join opposition

01/16/2012 05:01 EST | Updated 03/16/2012 05:12 EDT

A member of Syria's parliament says he has left the country to join the opposition against President Bashar Assad's regime.

Imad Ghalioun, who represents the central city of Homs, told Al-Arabiya TV the restive city is "disaster stricken" and has been subjected to sweeping human rights violations.

Homs has been one of the most volatile regions in Syria since the uprising against Assad began in March.

The United Nations says about 400 people have been killed in the last three weeks, on top of an earlier estimate of more than 5,000 killed since March.

Speaking from Egypt late Sunday, Ghalioun said he was able to leave Syria before a travel ban was imposed on officials.

He said there are many legislators who support the uprising but have not said so publicly.

In another development meant to pressure Assad into stopping the crackdown by Syrian troops, Tunisia cautiously added its voice Sunday to calls from Qatar for direct intervention to stop the bloodshed.

The foreign minister of Tunisia said in an interview with APTN on Sunday that he would not rule out troops being sent into the country.

Also Sunday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded that Syria's president stop killing his own people, indicating the rule of family dynasties is over in the Middle East.

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