Riad Farid Hijab, the Assad's prime minister, joined the liberation forces. He arrived in Jordan after being smuggled across the border.
"I announce today my defection from the killing and terrorist regime and I announce that I have joined the ranks of the freedom and dignity revolution. I announce that I am from today a soldier in this blessed revolution," Hijab said in a statement.
Etri said that the defection was planned for months, and was executed in conjunction with the Free Syrian Army.
The Assad's former prime minister encouraged other Syrian officials to defect in the wake of his announcement, adding that with his departure other, less senior, officials have no excuse not to defect.
He cautioned, however, that the illegal Alawite regime "was likely to react haphazardly, in a hysterical manner. It will perpetrate more killings and any official willing to defect must act wisely. He must take care of himself and his family".
"The regime speaks only one language: the language of blood."
Hijab is to leave Jordan for Qatar within days, following the example of other high-profile defectors. He will go to Doha, where international media are based.
Assad made the announcement of Hijab's dismissal after he realized that his own prime minister had fled the country.