"The Iranians met with Bashar al-Assad almost daily," Omar said. "Iranian security officials, high-ranking officers of the Iranian revolutionary guard, a lot of high-ranking officers."
In what may have been a breach of protocol, al-Omar also appeared in photos with former Lebanese President Emile Lahoud dressed in a shiny nylon track suit.
Omar offered tantalizing -- and impossible to independently confirm-- details about the inner workings of the presidential palace.
Throughout the bloody 19 months of the Syrian uprising, he said, the Syrian president grew increasingly irritable and anxious. Al-Omar described how al-Assad began nervously pacing the halls, and often stared out the windows of the hilltop palace down at the city of Damascus.
"Three or four months into the revolution, he seemed more preoccupied and more anxious, rarely did we see him smiling," al-Omar recalled.
"Sometimes we would see him do things with his head, hands or feet that are not appropriate for a president," he continued.
"One day I saw him kicking a table and he was cursing and swearing against the people of Homs, Rastan and Daraa, and he verbally abused the Sunnis and the Syrian people in general."
Al-Omar said al-Assad worked out of an office about 30 meters down the corridor from the room where the press department was stationed. He claimed the beleaguered president was obsessed with foreign media coverage of Syria.
"Bashar al-Assad has 16 TV screens in the meeting room, in his office, and also in the press office," the defector said. "Most news channels on the top row of the TV screens were Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC, CNN. ... He considered media people his first enemy. He hated them more than the revolution of the Free Syrian Army, especially the foreign reporters who enter Syria, because these were people who were showing the true picture and truth about what's happening in Syria. ...
"He would get very angry and swear, cursing the secret police and security forces saying, why can't they find out where these reporters are, capture them and 'bring them to me so that I can kill them.'"
There is no way to confirm al-Omar's claims, but several foreign reporters have lost their lives in Syria this year.
Veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik were killed by government artillery fire in Homs in February. They were among the first of a growing number of foreign journalists killed and wounded after entering Syria to report without government permission.
Meanwhile, the Syrian government has also held several foreign reporters in captivity for protracted periods without acknowledging their presence. With the help of Iranian mediation, Syrian authorities released Turkish journalists Adem Ozkose and Hamit Coskun in May, nearly two months after they disappeared in northern Syria.
The U.S. State Department recently announced that an American freelance reporter named Austin Tice is also believed to be in Syrian government hands. Tice disappeared in Syria last August. Meanwhile, a campaign has been organized in Turkey to lobby for the release of Cuneyt Unal, a Turkish cameraman who was captured in Syria and paraded on government television last August.
Amid efforts to crack down on voices of dissent as well as the growing armed insurgency, the presidential palace was not immune to danger, al-Omar said
The biggest crisis took place in July, when a bomb killed four top security officials from the national crisis management bureau. Among the dead was presidential security adviser Hassan Turkmani, a stern-faced man with a mustache who was shown in several photographs standing alongside al-Omar.
Al-Omar claimed al-Assad narrowly missed the bombing by a few minutes. He also said Maher al-Assad, a top military commander and brother to the Syrian president, was gravely wounded in the bombing. He also claimed Maher al-Assad was transported to Russia for treatment.
When contacted by CNN, the Russian government did not immediately respond to al-Omar's allegation.
"Two days after he returned from medical treatment in Russia, Maher al-Assad came to the presidential palace," al-Omar said. "He had lost his left leg in the bombing and also the use of his left arm."
The president's brother has not been seen in public since the bombing. Shortly after the attack, diplomatic sources were saying Maher al-Assad had been badly wounded.
Al-Omar's motives for abandoning his position near the seat of power are not entirely clear.
It could be self-preservation. According to reports on several Syrian websites, al-Omar survived an attack in Aleppo by "armed terrorists" in 2011. Asked about the incident, the normally voluble al-Omar declined to comment.
Instead, the former propagandist said the turning point came last month, when he drove through his hometown of Atareb in the north of the country.
"I swear I cried when I entered Atareb and saw that all the houses and shops were abandoned, everything was destroyed and burned," al-Omar said.
During a visit to Atareb last August, CNN journalists saw a virtual ghost town of ruined buildings devastated by months of fighting between regime forces and rebels.