Former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab reportedly crossed into Jordanian territories with his family on Wednesday morning, according to the Arabs Jordanian news agency.
The announcement came from the Jordanian government’s official spokesperson, Samih Maaytah, who added that it is still not clear whether Hijab will remain in Jordan or go to another country. This confirmation comes after officials from both countries earlier gave conflicting statements on his whereabouts.
Hijab only came to power in June but defected last week, although the Al-Assad regime reported he was dismissed. His defection makes him the highest ranking official in to defect to date.
The Arabs had earlier reported that Hijab entered the country on Tuesday with the aid of Jordanian troops who undertook a violent military operation to provide cover for his entry, which the news agency said destroyed ten Syrian tanks.
Hijab is said to be in the border city of El-Ramtha, which witnessed clashes between Syrian and Jordanian troops last week.
The Mayor of El-Ramtha, Abdel-Fattah Al-Ibrahim, told the Daily News Egypt that he “does not know whether or not the Syrian Prime Minister has entered Syria,” adding that he is “not the official spokesperson of the country.”
The Mayor of El-Ramtha said that clashes had occurred when the Jordanian army intervened to prevent fleeing refugees from being stopped by the Syrian army. He added that the Jordanian army helps refugees to cross the border without detonating mines located along the border.
So far 145,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan. But once they reach there, the hardships continue.
A refugee tent city was built by the Jordanian government in Za’atri last month, but according to AP, refugees in the camp complain of poor lighting, electricity and cell phone reception as well as the presence of scorpions and snakes around the camp. They also fear being hunted down by Assad agents inside Jordan.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II, expressed concerns for the escalating situation in Syria in an appearance on the United States network, CBS on Tuesday, saying Jordan “can’t afford any more Syrians coming through because of the load it is on the system we have here.”