World Bulletin/News Desk
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree to form a new government on Saturday, shaking up many cabinet posts but keeping the heads of the interior, defence and foreign ministries, state television reported.
The reappointment of Defence Minister Daoud Rajha will quash widespread rumours, previously denied by the government, that he had been assassinated by rebels who are struggling to bring down President Bashar al-Assad's rule.
The 16-month uprising, which has faced a brutal government crackdown, is increasingly being termed a civil war by foreign observers. Assad argues he is pursuing reforms even as he fights a revolt he says is led by foreign-backed militants.
But critics say Assad's appointment of Riyad Hijab as prime minister earlier in June was a sign the president was turning to hardline loyalists. Hijab formed the new government given Assad's approval, Syria TV said on Saturday.
Hijab, a former agriculture minister, is a committed member of Assad's Baath Party, which has ruled Syria for nearly four decades since his father Hafez al-Assad took power in 1970.
Most of the top government posts were given to Baathist loyalists. Critics consider the cabinet to be largely symbolic and say power in Syria remains in the hands of Assad and his close inner circle of family and security force elites.
The new cabinet follows a May 7 parliamentary election which Assad said was part of the path to reform but the opposition boycotted as a sham, insisting the president must step down.
Other than Rajha, the ministers to retain their post were Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.
Several new ministries were created in the new cabinet.
The moderate Qadri Jamil, a centrist who has said he is speaking both to the government and to rebels, was appointed minister of internal commerce and consumer protection. The post is newly formed and likely to be mostly ceremonial.
King Abdullah II would meet the presidents of Djibouti; Tanzania; Somalia, and Kenya in the coastal city of Aqaba on Sunday.
Kuwaiti health authorities on Saturday reported a new swine flu fatality
General John Allen is expected to meet later in the day with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, according to a statement by the ministry.
Earlier Saturday, Djiboutian ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dya-Eddin Bamakhrama told that his country had opened its airspace and territorial waters to Saudi-led operation.
A group of Houthis were meeting inside the house at the time of the strike, according to eyewitnesses.
Army spokesman Mohamed Samir said on Facebook that border patrol troops in Sinai had destroyed 69 entry points to underground tunnels on the border with the Gaza Strip
Putting the Sinai-based group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis comes in light of Egypt's recently-approved Terrorist Entities Law issued by President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in February.
Two ships collided in the Suez Canal, delaying traffic for several hours on the international route.
Gunmen have attacked the headquarters of the Houthi in the west of Yemen whilst in the southern city of Abyan there were clashes that erupted between local fighters and soldiers loyal to the Houthi group.
Coalition warplanes have struck the eastern province of Marib, targeting a Houthi camp
An Algerian diplomat who has remained anonymous has said that Saudi and Iranian officials were communicating via Algiers with a view to averting further military escalation in Yemen.
Two chlorine bomb were dropped onto Korin village with 17 people taken to hospital.
Local officials fear that the abandonment of the eastern province of Hadramawt will be an opportunity for Al-Qaeda to expand.
The former president of Yemen has knocked backed claims saying he has no plans on leaving Yemen.
A new visa requirement put in by Lebanon sees many Syrians living in fear with many already in abject poverty unable to move.
Brent crude price jumps above $64 per barrel Thursday after Al-Qaeda militants capture major oil terminal in southern Yemen.