By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the defections of Syria's prime minister and other senior officials increase the urgency of planning for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Clinton was in the South African capital Tuesday when she told reporters that it is important to make sure that Syrian state institutions remain intact once Assad loses his grip on power.
Clinton spoke a day after the defection of Prime Minister Riad Hijab, the latest in a string of high-level departures from the Assad regime.
She said the opposition is becoming increasingly effective and better armed, but that "this terrible violence" has been hard on the Syrian people.
Clinton said she would raise these issues when she travels to Turkey for talks on Syria on Saturday.